Vic launches $5.3b social housing blitz

Gus McCubbing
·3-min read

The Victorian government has committed a "game changing" $5.3 billion toward building 12,000 social housing homes throughout Melbourne and regional areas.

The package, to be included in the state's 2020/21 budget released on November 24, will deliver 9300 new homes, as well as the replacement of 1100 existing public housing units.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said 2000 of the new homes would be for people living with mental illness, while 2900 new affordable and low-cost homes would be built to help low-to-moderate income earners live closer to work.

There would also be 1000 dwellings to support Indigenous Victorians and another 1000 to support victims of family violence, the Victorian premier said.

"This will change lives - giving thousands of Victorians the security and stability of a home," Mr Andrews said.

"It's a profound investment in a stronger, fairer Victoria - a Victoria that recognises everyone deserves a place to call home."

The new homes will meet seven-star efficiency standards to be comfortable during summer and winter, Mr Andrews said.

The program would also create about 10,000 jobs a year over the next four years, with the first six tenders out this month and the first 6000 dwellings expected to completed within 18 months, he said.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne said 25 per cent of the funding would be committed to regional Victoria.

"Whether you're in Wonthaggi, Portland or Wodonga, you will be a recipient of this investment going forward," he told reporters on Sunday.

Victorian Greens acting housing spokesperson Sam Hibbins welcomed the package but said there are more than 100,000 people on the waiting list for public housing.

Social housing homes as a proportion of all households is 3.2 per cent - below the national average of 4.5 per cent, a Victorian Council of Social Service spokesman said.

But VCOSS chief Emma King said the program, tipped to boost Victoria's social housing supply by 10 per cent in four years, would be a "massive leap" toward solving the state's housing and homelessness crisis.

"This colossal investment will mean fewer people cold, hungry and homeless, and more people in work," Ms King said in a statement.

"A single investment of this scale has not been seen in many decades, if ever. It's a game changer."

Ms King said while housing was a "springboard" to a good life, many people living on either Jobseeker or JobKeeper could not to pay for both rent and basic necessities.

"The difference of being able to access a property that's at a fixed rate of income is just phenomenal," she said.

"With a roof over your head, you can overcome all the other challenges more easily."

Council to Homeless Persons chief Jenny Smith also welcomed the "historic level" of investment in social housing.

"Lack of social housing has been driving people into homelessness, and making it almost impossible for people to escape homelessness," Ms Smith said in a statement.

"Without a secure affordable home, it is almost unachievable for people to engage in education or employment, much less to maintain their health and wellbeing."