NGO’s plan to address Victoria’s housing affordability crisis

The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) is proposing a new funding model that would allow the Victorian Government to convert affordable housing into social dwellings.

Under the plan, the CHP believes the State Government would be able to bridge the gap between the rent costs of affordable and social housing.

New data reveals that renting affordable housing in Victoria costs $11,400 a year more than social housing as the state grapples with a shortfall of social properties.

The Federal Government has committed to build 27,500 affordable housing properties over the next four years. Based on population, Victoria’s share of these dwellings is 7000.

If this proposed model is adopted, the Victorian Government could switch those affordable properties to social dwellings by meeting the $11,400 average annual rental gap between the two categories.

This innovation could allow more flexibility to meet Victoria’s needs, with just 2.9% of all households in social housing – the lowest proportion in Australia.

Affordable housing are properties that charge 80% of market rent, while social housing is 30% of income plus Commonwealth Rental Assistance.

Council to Homeless Persons CEO, Deborah Di Natale, has called for Victorian Housing Minister Colin Brooks, to raise the proposal with federal and state counterparts at this month’s Housing and Homelessness Ministerial Council meeting.

“Despite welcome State Government initiatives like the Big Housing Build, our state is woefully behind when it comes to the level of social housing available,” Ms Di Natale said.

“That’s why we’ve come up with a funding model that gives Victoria the flexibility to convert already promised affordable housing into social dwellings.

“We’re in the midst of the most serious housing crisis in living memory, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Unlocking more social housing through investment at both a federal and state level is the key to ending homelessness.”

Photo: One of the first apartment blocks from Victoria’s $5.3 Billion Big Build project. Source: Homeless Australia Twitter page.

Di Natale highlighted that Victoria is currently last among all Australian states and territories when it comes to social housing as a proportion of all housing.

“”If federal investment in social housing to each State is based on population, the State Government needs to continue to chip in or there’s no chance of Victoria getting out of last place.

“We need to do things differently. That’s why we’ve devised a model that lets Victoria top up funding to ensure there is more social housing built. Rents are accelerating at break-neck speed, leaving thousands of Victorians at serious risk of becoming homeless.

“The right investment in social housing can end homelessness. We just need governments to work together and act.”

Homelessness in Victoria has soared by 76 per cent in the past 15 years and 24 per cent in the past five years, according to the most recent Census data.

The Victorian Government’s latest rental report documented a 12.5 per cent increase in median rents over the past 12 months. Rents have risen 16.9% over five years and a staggering 36.4 per cent over the last decade.

Feature image: PHS Community Services Twitter page.

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