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Northern Victoria MP calls for more social housing in Seymour

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By Colin MacGillivray

Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has accused the State Government of concealing data about social housing waitlists as flood-affected Seymour residents wait for accommodation.

Ms Lovell said while waiting lists for Victorian social housing were usually published quarterly, the government had failed to publish data for the past two quarters ending September 2022 and December 2022.

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She said in light of the flooding that struck Seymour and other northern Victorian communities in October last year, social housing waiting lists were likely to have ballooned.

She called on the government to build more social housing in Seymour to address the problem.

“The Andrews Labor Government is failing Seymour’s most vulnerable families leaving them to languish on ever growing waiting lists,” she said.

“The government is purposely hiding the true extent of Seymour’s social housing crisis by refusing to release the quarterly data and using a creative way to report local data.

“The only way the social housing shortage in Seymour can be addressed is for the government to invest in building a lot more properties in Seymour.”

Ms Lovell said the statewide waiting list for social housing was at more than 55,000 people in June last year, up 59 per cent since the 2014 state election.

She said there had also been a 208 per cent increase in priority housing applications, from 9990 in September, 2014, to 30,766 in June, 2022.

She claimed government changes to the way the waitlist was reported made it difficult to calculate demand in Seymour, but as of June last year, 581 applicants had listed Seymour as a preferred location, 371 of whom had priority status.

A government spokesperson hit back at Ms Lovell’s claims, saying waiting lists from 2014 were not comparable to those from 2022 because of fundamental changes to the design of the waitlist system in the past nine years.

The spokesperson said Ms Lovell’s call for more social housing in Seymour was already in the process of being addressed through the State Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build program.

While admitting demand for social and affordable housing was high across Victoria, they said it was driven by a complex array of factors including housing affordability and overall economic conditions.

“Waiting times for social housing are dependent on a number of factors: the number and the types of properties available, the demand in the areas an applicant wants to live and how many people have been approved under the priority access,” the spokesperson said.

“Mitchell Shire is a priority area under the Big Housing Build. It was allocated a $25 million minimum investment guarantee – which has already been exceeded – to create modern, accessible, energy efficient homes for people who need these most.

“We’ve invested $40 million in Mitchell Shire under the Big Housing Build and other social housing programs to create 106 new homes.”

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