By Tricia Mifsud

MACEDON Ranges Shire Council will aim to increase the supply of appropriate affordable housing in the shire through advocacy, decision making, facilitating and investing.

The council unanimously adopted an affordable housing interim policy at its December ordinary meeting, following a public exhibition period.

The interim policy is effective until 2023, when council is required to adopt the complete policy as part of the State Government’s Big Housing Build, which will invest $5.3 billion to increase the supply of social and affordable housing across Victoria.

“Further work is needed to prepare a comprehensive policy for Macedon Ranges Shire and this can be completed by 2023,” community care manager Fiona Alexander said.

“The draft interim policy has been developed as a time sensitive priority of council. Inputs have included environment review of local government approaches and engagement with relevant local peak bodies.”

The policy received eight written submissions and had one participant in an online forum, with a major response to the policy identifying the need for council to advocate for people living with disabilities because they were disproportionally affected.

Changes to the policy were made to ensure people with disabilities were included, such as to ‘understand that choice and control principles should be reflected in decisions related to housing needs of people with disability’ and to ‘understand the value of community, and the importance of an individual being able to stay close to his/her/their support networks’.

Other submissions related to the proposal of a particular section of council-owned land being repurposed for affordable housing, with residents concerned about land-use considerations.

It was also noted that insufficient data and history were provided regarding performance, following the tender for management of housing by a community housing provider.

Two submissions also commended council’s endeavours to provide affordable housing within the shire.

All submissions will be taken into consideration again when the complete policy is created in 2023.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council Mayor Jennifer Anderson thanked those involved in creating the interim policy and highlighted its importance to serving the community in years to come.

“This is an interim policy and taking note of the fact that it is a changing environment and there is a lot to know and to learn, and this is at least starting us on the path,” she said.

“It’s been a lot of hard work in the background over a very short period of time.

“I’d like to thank our chief executive in assisting to direct us all to know that this is an emerging area and we really need to start thinking about how we can support our community to ensure that we have adequate and affordable housing there to meet our community’s needs.”