Public Housing Victoria


The Productivity Commission has released the Housing and Homelessness portion of the 2020 Report on Government Services.


This year’s report confirms again that Victoria needs to see significant growth in public housing stock.


We estimate that in 2020, there will be 100,000 individuals covered by an application to the Victorian Housing Register – the joint public and community housing waiting list. However, in 2019, only 5,025 allocations were made into public housing from the waiting list.


In total 2,826 new households were assisted into public housing, and 2,199 transfers between public housing properties were made.


As at September 2019, The Department of Health and Human Services was reporting that there were more than 51,000 applications on the waiting list, of which more than half (27,231) were listed as ‘priority.’


In order to qualify for priority consideration, applicants need to demonstrate that they urgently need housing due to them currently experiencing homelessness, needing to move for medical reasons or experiencing serious safety concerns – such as family violence or being subjected to ongoing harassment and threats.


Without urgent growth in public housing stock, Victoria will continue to be unable to meet the needs of those who we have the greatest responsibility to assist.


It is against this backdrop that we were particularly disappointed to learn that in the 2018-19 financial year, the Victorian Government transferred 458 properties to community housing organisations.


Community housing organisations have significant discretion in deciding who they allocate properties to and are not obliged to always make an allocation based solely on greatest need in the same way that the Department of Health and Human Services must.


Potentially, these transfers could result in 458 fewer properties being available to those with the greatest need.


Other data from the 2020 Report on Government Services also confirmed that rents in community housing are generally higher than in public housing, with 34 per cent of community housing tenants paying more than a quarter of their household income on rent, and only 1.3% of public housing tenants paying more than a quarter of their household income on rent.


The Report also shows that public housing is slightly more likely to provide housing for low income families, with 98.8% of all households in public housing being identified as low income, as opposed to only 94.9% of all households in community housing.


Our Executive Officer, Mark Feenane, said:


“We must do more to urgently increase public housing stock so that all Victorians who need a home, have one. Victorians care for and look out for one another. It is uncharacteristic that we could also have 100,000 of our peers – enough people to fill our great MCG – waiting for a home.”