By Michael Giles
Every Victorian deserves the safety and security of a home.
But for many, that’s becoming increasingly harder. A significant number of Victorians, particularly young Victorians, are struggling to break into the housing market.
House prices are rising and upfront costs – a deposit, stamp duty and fees – quickly add up.
It’s getting harder for renters too. Many struggle to meet high rental prices, or instead choose to live in unsuitable housing. Some don’t have the security they need, or the capacity to personalise their home as they would like.
At the same time, the number of Victorians who need to access public and community housing is growing. Waiting lists are long, and many of our existing homes have fallen into disrepair.
In short, too many Victorians don’t have a real choice about where they live, or the type of home they live in. And as our population grows, inaction will only make things worse.
This is not an editorial.
These are the opening remarks in a 43-page a report by the State Government called ‘Homes for Victorian’, produced in March 2017.
A key response to that report was a promise to build and develop more social housing, “supporting vulnerable Victorians while creating thousands of extra jobs in the construction industry”.
But somewhere along the way the message got lost.
While there’s a plan to “transform eight of the oldest public housing estates in Melbourne into modern and comfortable homes and neighbourhoods, what’s happening in regional areas?
Surely this is the perfect opportunity to inject much needed cash and jobs into the regions while leaving a lasting legacy of much needed housing.
One local real estate agent in Wonthaggi only has two rental houses on the books at the moment, in a rent roll of almost 500 houses.
There’s little turnover because no one can leave. Applications are pre-approved, so some applicants don’t get a look in. And there’s upwards of six applicants arrive for the inspection. It’s hopeless.
Last week the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Housing, Tim Smith, visited town warning that with no public housing available in Bass Coast, events such as the closure of the Miners Rest Caravan Park will create great hardship.
He says there are 80,000 people on the books for public housing in Victoria, surely an understatement of the real need.
Mr Andrews, this then is your next mountain to climb, and hopefully the money wasted on the East-West Link and blowouts with other projects hasn’t cruelled the chances of needy people having somewhere to live.