It’s undeniable that the Government’s Big Housing Build provides an unprecedented and desperately needed increase in social housing stock, although we would have preferred to see the management of properties performed by Homes Victoria, not just the community housing sector.
The VPTA does not support the transfer and management of public housing properties and tenancies to community housing providers.
We now understand that the new social housing dwellings to be delivered as a result of the Big Housing Build will be managed by privately owned community housing providers and association. This is deeply disappointing given the essential safety net that public housing has provided to Victorians for generations.
Currently, each community housing provider has separate policies for key issues such as rent setting, and the sector has discretion to allocate properties more selectively than public housing allocations – which must always be based on urgency of need.
Although 12,300 new properties is an historic commitment, the extent of Victoria’s social housing challenge means that this must be just the start.
The Victorian Housing Peaks Alliance has called for the Government to commit to building 6,000 properties, every year between 2020 – 2030. This is the scale of works that Victoria requires in order to bring our stock levels in line with the national average.
So we welcome Homes Victoria’s plans to formulate a 10 year growth strategy, to ensure that the pipeline of new properties continues after the Big Housing Build is complete. We look forward to working closely with Homes Victoria to ensure that publicly owned and managed properties continue to play a key role, and also benefit from social housing construction initiatives.
A regulatory review of community housing has been announced, which we anticipate will provide more guidance on the future policies and procedures of community housing providers. We intend to do our utmost to provide every assistance to that review panel, to ensure that all people on the waitlist have a fair opportunity to be allocated housing, and that rents for future social housing tenants remain genuinely affordable.
All social housing tenants should have a strong and independent voice that advocates for them when needed.
This year, the VPTA turns 20. Our job of working with people who live in public housing, and people on the waitlist, advocating on their behalf and advising the Government to ensure that the promise of opportunity that a safe and secure home can provide is fulfilled, has never been more critical.