Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (13:57): My adjournment today is for Minister Wynne in the other place. Recently Infrastructure Victoria released an updated 30-year infrastructure strategy, which is now being considered by our government. Infrastructure Victoria has made 94 recommendations, one of which focuses on Victoria’s social housing strategy. The report recommends that the Victorian government, and I quote:
… set a transparent statewide social housing growth target to reach and maintain at least the national average of 4.5 social housing dwellings for every 100 households by 2031.
It is clear social housing must be a priority. At this time the social housing register is under immense pressure. Despite significant investment in social housing through the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build, more must be done. The Big Housing Build will increase Victoria’s social housing stock by 10 per cent. However, this will still not meet the national average of social housing dwellings, which is 4.5 per cent.
With rents increasing further, it is even more difficult for at-risk Victorians to access safe and affordable housing. We have a homelessness crisis in Victoria. This is not in dispute. Infrastructure Victoria found only 11.4 per cent of new Victorian rentals are affordable for someone receiving Centrelink benefits, and they estimate that in order to keep up with the population growth there would need to be an additional 1700 social housing stock built each year, with up to 8300 needed annually to cover all evident need. This is both achievable and necessary. We must commit to a statewide social housing growth target that brings Victoria up to the national average of 4.5 per cent if we are going to turn this crisis around.
I know that in Eastern Metropolitan Region hidden just below the surface of our leafy greens streets many are struggling. Women and children are sleeping in their cars, having escaped family violence, young people are sleeping on friends’ couches and hundreds of people are being turned away from homelessness services each and every night. Our most vulnerable are being forced into a revolving door of rooming houses and motels. They have no stability. These Victorians are just as deserving of having a roof over their heads. It is time we caught up with the rest of the country. The government must do everything they can to provide Victorians with safe and affordable housing. That is their responsibility, so the action I seek is: will the government commit to a social housing growth target that will bring Victoria in line with the national average of 4.5 per cent by 2031?
Answered: 14 October 2021 by Hon. Richard Wynn
I thank Mr Barton, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, for his question and acknowledge his interest in improving social and affordable housing outcomes for all Victorians.
Infrastructure Victoria’s refreshed 30 -Year Strategy has continued to emphasise the importance of social housing, which supports those in need of safe, secure, and affordable housing. Social housing is critical to building strong and inclusive communities and contributes to a thriving and liveable Victoria.
The Victorian Government is currently preparing its response to Infrastructure Victoria’s strategy. In addition, we have committed to releasing a 10-Year Strategy for Social and Affordable Housing, which will set a vision and direction for social housing growth into the future. The recommendation from Infrastructure Victoria reaffirms the importance of growth and setting aspirations for the future housing system.
We are also making headway to grow social and affordable housing. In the 2020-21 Budget, the Government committed $5.3 billion via the Big Housing Build to deliver more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes across the state. The Big Housing Build is Victoria’s largest ever investment in new social housing supply. It will create tens of thousands of jobs and support Victoria’s building and construction industry as our economy recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 9,300 of these homes will be for social housing and prioritised for people in urgent need. Renters of social housing properties will be allocated from the Victorian Housing Register. This means that the investment will assist vulnerable households who need it the most, such as those experiencing homelessness, people with mental illness, applicants aged over 55, or family violence victim survivors. Just recently, we announced the outcome of the Social Housing Growth Fund rapid grants round, which will deliver 2,352 new social homes across Victoria.
The Big Housing Build comes on top of the $498 million for refurbishment and maintenance of existing social housing dwellings, $209 million to build 1,000 new public housing dwellings, $150 million for the Homelessness to Home program, and a $112 million package for energy efficient upgrades to social housing.
In the first of its kind for social housing in Australia – the Victorian Government will lease land in Brighton, Flemington, and Prahran to a not-for-profit consortium to build, operate and maintain housing on the sites for 40 years. The project is valued at more than half a billion dollars and will build 1,110 new homes. At the end of the lease, the land and all 1,110 dwellings will come under the management of the Government.
I trust this information has been of assistance, and I thank Mr Barton again for his interest and question on social housing growth.