By Aleksandra Bliszczyk
A petition against a proposed affordable housing development in Wollert has picked up more than 2000 signatures, sparking debate on social media.
At last month’s council meeting, City of Whittlesea administrators resolved to lease land to a community housing organisation for a 50-year term, after a council report showed that demand far outstrips supply for affordable housing in the municipality, and that gap will continue to increase with the growing population.
The petition was started by a resident who lives 900 metres from the proposed five-acre development site at 1F Ashline Street Wollert, who says the development would devalue his property.
Council has responded saying there is no evidence to suggest it would impact housing prices.
“There is no evidence to suggest home values are impacted by affordable housing,” City of Whittlesea chief executive Craig Lloyd said.
“What we do know is that there is a significant shortage of affordable housing in the City of Whittlesea which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has left more people without incomes and or significantly reduced incomes.”
One in five City of Whittlesea households is classified as having a very low income and one in three households who are renting is experiencing housing stress, which is defined as spending 30 per cent or more of household income on rent.
The rate of affordable housing provision in Wollert is 0.7 per cent, far lower than Greater Melbourne’s average at 2.6 per cent.
As of December 2020, there were no rental properties available in the Epping North and Wollert area for very low-income households.
There are currently at least 630 people living in the City of Whittlesea who are homeless, and the municipality has one of the highest family violence rates in metropolitan Melbourne.
“We urgently need more housing for people on low incomes,” Mr Lloyd said.
“The Victorian Government is investing in the Big Build Program funding to help address this critical shortage and council is looking at ways we can also support our residents to find affordable housing.
“The Ashline Street proposal in Wollert is about providing high-quality and attractive local housing for local people which is affordable in a location that is close to parks, schools, shops, public transport and other facilities. Council is consulting with the community about this proposal before making a decision.”
Community consultation was open for a month and closed yesterday. The outcomes of community consultation and council’s decision will be heard at the December ordinary council meeting.