social housing
in 2018-19, 1in 57 Victorians accessed a government-funded homeless service. Image – Canva
  • 450 submissions were made to the committee, including 18 hearings
  • Victoria would need to build 3,400 social housing dwellings a year to meet national average
  • Committee made 51 recommendations

A multi-party committee of the Victorian Government has found that homelessness has become more prevalent throughout the State.

Over 450 formal submissions were made to the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee inquiry into homelessness with 18 hearings occurring both in Melbourne and across regional Victoria.

“We really took the time to understand this complex issue and spoke with a range of people and organisations across Victoria, including people experiencing homelessness,” Committee Chair Fiona Patten said.

“Homelessness is getting worse. Now is the time we really need to turn our attention to the problem before it gets entirely out of hand.”

According to the report, during 2018-19, one in 57 Victorians accessed a government-funded homeless service.

76% were not able to secure long-term housing and 62% could not get medium-term transitional accommodation.

Victoria’s social housing stock is so low that for the State to reach the national social housing average of 4.6%, 3,400 social housing dwellings would need to be built annually between now and 2036.

This means the $5.3 billion project to build 12,000 public housing homes over the next four years – the largest investment in public housing ever in Australia – is insufficient in dealing with Victoria’s homelessness crisis.

“As a Committee we were especially concerned that demand for homelessness services significantly exceeds the availability of support,” Ms Patten said.

“Because the homelessness system is so overwhelmed, it only has the resources to provide short-term accommodation for the very needy.”

To tackle the issue, it has listed 51 recommendations to the Victorian Government.

Recommendations include provisions for affordable, stable and long-term housing, prioritising early intervention measures such as tenancy support programs and to support innovative accommodation options.

One recommendation that appears to be gaining attention is recommendation number 50. This involves the Victorian Government investigating the possibility of mandatory inclusionary zoning that would result in major new developments allocating dwellings towards social or affordable housing.

The committee adds incentives should be in place for developers to build more social housing in order to facilitate this recommendation.

“Homelessness is a solvable problem, we know what needs to be done, we just need the will to carry it out,” concluded Ms Patten.

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