Social housing a priority

By Colin MacGillivray

CITY of Whittlesea administrators have identified three potential sites for new social housing developments as part of the State Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.

Whittlesea was listed as a priority local government area as part of the project, which aims to address social housing shortages across the state.

The City of Whittlesea currently has a shortfall of about 3200 affordable dwellings, and council administrator chair Lydia Wilson said more housing was urgently needed.

“The State Government’s Big Housing Build initiative is a positive step in the right direction for housing policy and we welcome the City of Whittlesea being named as a priority site,” she said.

“The current rate of social and affordable housing in our municipality is very low and demand far outstrips supply. The current deficit is estimated at more than 3000 households and directly impacts the most vulnerable members of our community.

“Everyone needs a place to call home. As part of our long-term vision, A Place for All, we believe every person should be able to access safe, stable and affordable housing as the foundation of a happy and healthy life.”

Ms Wilson said three State Government-owned parcels of land had already been identified as potential sites for social housing developments.

“Council has identified three State Government-owned parcels of land in our municipality that we hope will be immediately included in the Big Housing Build,” she said.

“We are also investigating surplus land that could be part of the initiative to provide more affordable housing in our municipality and create local construction jobs.”

Council director of planning and development Justin O’Meara said council was examining its own land in addition to the State Government sites already recommended.

“It’s great to see that Whittlesea has been identified as one of the priority council areas for this new program,” he said.

“To date, council has had a strong advocacy program of working closely with providers of social housing to facilitate outcomes.

“This new program allows council to go even further in identifying not only State Government-owned surplus land – we will be advocating and recommending to council that those sites be developed for social housing purposes – but we will also be bringing to council a list of council sites that could be suitable for social and affordable housing.”

The Big Housing Build was announced in the State Budget and is the largest ever investment in social housing by the Victorian Government.

The program aims to increase the state’s social housing supply by 10 per cent by constructing more than 12,000 new homes.

Of the new homes, 2000 will be for Victorians with mental illness.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the housing build would provide security for vulnerable or marginalised groups such as Aboriginal Victorians, pensioners, Victorians with disability, family violence victims and single-parent families.