SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

IT was an extreme case no doubt, but several years ago, when the Department of Housing relocated a family with specific needs out of the Latrobe Valley to Leongatha, local police allegedly advised them not to do it.
The result was significant conflict between the locals and the new arrivals, with authorities in the town barely able to cope.
The news at the weekend that the state government is preparing to commit $5.3 billion to a massive, new social housing plan to develop 12,000 homes by 2024 was welcome indeed.
And the news that at least $25 million of those funds will be spent on social housing in Bass Coast, the lion’s share of which would be spent in Wonthaggi, looks promising as well.
Here in Bass Coast, we have long had a demonstrated need for public housing and hopefully this will go a long way to getting eligible families and individuals off the public housing waiting list.
But, there’s a big difference between providing public housing for people who already live in the area and relocating people from outside the region to Wonthaggi.
One of the reasons why the state government has been prompted to invest in public housing is because of the experience they had trying to support residents of Melbourne’s ‘Housing Commission Towers’ though the pandemic. It exposed problems verging on the inhumane for the families involved.
But you can’t simply decide to build more social housing in regional areas and leave it at that.
We’re probably talking between 75 and 100 new houses but it’s still significant.
There needs to be a proper impact study done explaining how many new public houses will be built in Wonthaggi, who will live in them and what extra support services might need to be provided.
We’ve often been told Wonthaggi would attract significant growth from its proximity to the metro area and the coast. Perhaps it will be ramped up now as a result of social changes coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.