The Victorian Public Tenants’ Association (VPTA) welcomes the announcement of the Tower Relocation Program by the State Government.
The program will allow up to 420 households in Melbourne’s high-rise towers who are at increased risk of covid-19 due to overcrowding or a medical condition, move in to a privately leased property for two years, before returning to a permanent public housing property.
By fast tracking transfer applications, the program has the potential to greatly increase living standards for many families.
Overcrowding is not new to public housing in Victoria.
For many years, there have been large households cramped into very small living quarters around the State, and particularly in the high-rise towers.
The hard lockdown of nine of these buildings in July showed the community the resilience and strength of people who live in public housing, but also shocked many. The VPTA believes that overcrowding was a factor which led infections in these buildings to rapidly spread.
We hope that the Tower Relocation Program will quickly begin to address some of these issues.
While this is a positive announcement, it cannot address the underlying and serious issue that allows overcrowding to occur in the first place – the serious lack of public housing. Currently, more than half the waitlist falls into a priority category, but despite this the wait for a property is often still years.
Victoria needs to construct 6,000 new social housing properties every year for the next ten years to catch up to the national average stock level. We believe at least two thirds of these properties should be public housing properties, and a number should also be specially designated as Indigenous Housing. Additionally, properties must be built in a variety of sizes, to prevent overcrowding from occurring in the future.
We continue to call on the Government to urgently commit to an ambitious building program so that we can break the back of homelessness in Victoria, and make sure every Victorian who needs a home, has one.
We encourage any residents who have questions about this program to contact us.