Public housing is one of the most effective ways we can prevent homelessness in our communities.
New analysis released by RMIT University this week exposed that over the past 20 years, the sale of ‘surplus’ land by successive Victorian Government’s was sufficient to construct around 11,000 public housing properties – a huge missed opportunity.
The VPTA has compared 2016 Census figures on the number of people experiencing homelessness in each local government area, the number of applications for housing in these areas today, and the number of public housing properties that the RMIT researchers believe could have been constructed, had the land not been sold.
In nine local government areas, the number of public housing properties that could have been built is equal to or greater than the number of people experiencing homelessness or the number of people who are currently waiting for housing.
That’s nine pockets of our State where we had the opportunity to eliminate homelessness and housing insecurity – and didn’t.
In the West Melbourne area (the local government areas of Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham and the City of Melbourne) there were 3,903 people recorded as experiencing homelessness in the 2016 Census. Today, the priority wait list for housing in the same area sits at 3,303, and the total number of outstanding applications for housing is 5,739. The RMIT figures consider that 5,727 additional public housing properties could have been built on land sold in these areas alone.
Had these properties been built, there could have been almost no wait for access to safe, secure housing in these local government areas.
This is also the case for local government areas of Prahran, Stonnington, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.
We cannot continue to allow opportunities to pass us by.
As the Victorian community emerges from the Covid19 pandemic, and thoughts begin to turn to recovery, we must make construction of public housing a key pillar of economic stimulus so that Victorians never again needlessly suffer the trauma of extreme housing insecurity.
Executive Officer of the Victorian Public Tenants Association, Mark Feenane, said:
“There has never been a more urgent need to increase public housing and we must have a plan for public housing growth post Covid 19.
Public housing is vital community infrastructure – like schools, hospitals and roads.
It is imperative for rapid economic stimulus that drives local business and jobs whilst delivering tangible community benefit much faster than large expensive capital works projects which can take many years to finalise.”