State Government Invests in Affordable Housing
Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
The Andrews Government has made a range of announcements today. We will try to explain what they mean for public housing tenants, now and into the future.
“Reform, Growth and Better Outcomes.”
On a broad level, we have been calling for growth in affordable housing options for years. Other than the ‘Nation Building’ funding by the Gillard/Rudd Governments, today’s announcements are the most significant we have seen for decades.
Any action by the Victorian Government to increase housing options for low income Victorians and reduce our high levels of homelessness is welcome.
$1 Billion Social Housing Growth Fund
This innovative measure by the Government will ensure long-term and secure funding for affordable housing. This should ensure that the stagnation in funding we have experienced over the last two decades is never repeated.
In essence, the fund will be held in perpetuity, and the earnings of the fund will be invested in housing projects that meet the criteria that is yet to be established.
The Treasurer, Tim Pallas, estimates that, when fully operational, the Fund can be expected to return $75 million per year.
$1 Billion in Loan Guarantees
In addition, the community housing sector will have access to loan guarantees to assist them to grow their sector. It is hoped that this will assist the community housing sector to get more projects off the ground, and thus take some of the pressure off the public housing system.
The Government announced that they will transfer up to 4,000 public housing properties for the community housing sector to manage. These are not stock transfers, as the properties will continue to be owned by the State.
The Government has stated, in writing, the following.
“Tenants’ rights to their current homes will be unchanged as a result of the transfer. Tenants will continue to pay no more than 25 percent of income on rent (plus Commonwealth Rent Assistance).”
The VPTA will work with the Government to understand the detail behind this announcement.
Our major focus will be on the rights of the tenants who are impacted by this announcement.
They will want assurances in relation to the security of their tenancies, the affordability of their rent and their rights as tenants.
We also will seek information on the process for new tenancies that are established, and we will seek that new tenants have the same rights as existing tenants.
We will also ask about what will happen with those tenants who do not wish to apply for Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
There are already 8,000 public housing properties in Victoria being managed by community housing.
We will work closely with tenants throughout this process and work hard to ensure that their voice is heard.
Any tenants who wish to share their views with us, ask questions or make suggestions can call us on Freecall 1800 015 510 during business hours. You can also use the “Contact Us” section to drop us a line.
Social Housing Tenant Allocation Policy Framework
This is a very important, but not broadly understood policy announcement.
The Government has announced that for community housing organisations to access the Social Housing Growth Fund or the various loan programs, they will need to adhere to tenant allocation criteria.
This will mean that at least 75% of the allocations made by community housing will need to come from priority applicants on the Victorian Housing Register.
The Government argue that to have a truly integrated system, both the public and the community housing sectors must allocate housing to those who are most in need. The VPTA have worked hard on this issue over recent months and we think that the Government has achieved a reasonable balance.