Historic investment into public housing welcomed

Historic investment into public housing welcomed

Housing and homelessness support agencies have welcomed the Victorian government's announcement of a historical investment into public housing.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the Victorian budget would deliver $5.3 billion to construct more than 12,000 new homes over the next four years.

Twenty five per cent of the funding will be allocated to regional Victoria, but details on how many homes will be built in Ballarat has not yet been revealed.

Leaders at Uniting Ballarat and Centacare said the significant investment responded to a desperate need.

More than 330 households are currently waiting to be placed into long-term housing in the Victorian Central Highlands region.

It is a bit of a scratch, but it is a great start.

Adam Liversage, Uniting Ballarat

Mr Andrews said the housing construction would support 10,000 jobs per year over the next four years.

It equates to 9300 new social housing homes, including replacing 1100 old public housing units.

A further 2900 new affordable and low-cost homes will be built to help low-to-moderate income earners live closer to where they work and provide options for private rental.

Centacare chief executive Tony Fitzgerald said the investment was 'unprecedented' in Victoria's history, but would be a game of catch up after periods of low investment compared to other states.

ADVOCATE: Centacare CEO Tony Fitzgerald and Centacare co-ordinator advocacy programs Jan Armstrong have long called for an increase in housing stock. Picture: Rochelle Kirkham

ADVOCATE: Centacare CEO Tony Fitzgerald and Centacare co-ordinator advocacy programs Jan Armstrong have long called for an increase in housing stock. Picture: Rochelle Kirkham

"I am really pleased to see an announcement of this magnitude and to get it up and running as quickly as we can," he said.

"The various royal commissions that have happened into mental health and the like have certainly highlighted having a roof over your head is a critical component to your overall well-being."

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While details on the location of housing is not yet known, Mr Fitzgerald said Ballarat had one of the tightest rental markets in Victoria, so any growth in stock that alleviates that situation would be welcome.

Uniting Ballarat coordinator of housing and homelessness Adam Liversage said the state government should be congratulated, but the new homes would not be enough to solve homelessness.

SUPPORT: Uniting Ballarat coordinator of housing and homelessness Adam Liversage with co-ordinator of Street 2 Home Stacey Park. Picture: Adam Trafford

SUPPORT: Uniting Ballarat coordinator of housing and homelessness Adam Liversage with co-ordinator of Street 2 Home Stacey Park. Picture: Adam Trafford

"There are still 100,000 people on our public housing waiting list in Victoria," he said.

"While this will provide housing for 10 to 12 per cent of them, we have still got a fair portion of that 100,000 who still won't have affordable housing and be homeless.

"It is a bit of a scratch, but it is a great start."

Mr Liversage said it was important the state government also allocated funding for the upkeep and maintenance of the new public housing properties, as that had been an issue in the past.

He said the location, size and suitability of the properties was also a significant consideration.

Uniting Ballarat data showed there were 51 households waiting for two-bedroom housing, 18 for three-bedroom housing, 104 for one bedroom housing and two for four-plus bedroom housing in the Central Highlands last week.

Ballarat housing and homelessness support agencies expressed deep disappointment with the federal government's lack of investment in public housing in this year's budget.

Mr Liversage said he hoped the federal government would match the state government contribution.

With a roof over your head, you can overcome all the other challenges more easily.

Emma King, Victorian Council of Social Service

He said he also hoped the state government contribution would continue into the future beyond the four year funding term.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King said housing was a springboard to overall well-being.

"With a roof over your head, you can overcome all the other challenges more easily," she said.

"This announcement will change thousands of lives for the better. Making people happier and healthier, and more able to engage in work, education and the community around them."

Council to Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith said a lack of public housing had been driving people into homelessness and making it almost impossible for them to escape it.

Mr Andrews said the new homes will meet seven-star energy efficiency standards, making them more comfortable during summer and winter and saving tenants on their power bills.

A new government agency called Homes Victoria has been established to work across government, industry and the social housing sector to deliver the homes and to manage existing public housing.

This story Historic investment into public housing welcomed first appeared on The Courier.