I am heartened to see that the issues of homelessness and the lack of social housing in the Bass Coast area have been highlighted in the past four issues of this paper. These are crucial and pressing issues that need to be discussed and have solutions found via the community.

The people who find themselves unable to pay current market rental prices, waiting for a social house that doesn’t exist yet, and facing homelessness can do very little to address the issues other than write a letter to this paper, their local state Member and the Minister for Housing. And because of the many challenges they are facing, very few have the ability to do just that.

I was happy to read last week that the Bass Coast Shire Council had identified parcels of land that could be made available for social housing, and that they were going to partner with Community Housing Limited and Salvation Army Housing. I hope this means that Bass Coast will submit and be approved for funding under the current funding round, the Social Housing Growth Fund Regional Round.

What concerns me though is the timing: dwellings to be commenced no later than June 2023 and completed by June 2025. That’s still years of waiting for the 693 of us with priority access housing applications.

Another concern for me is the engagement with, or lack thereof, with the crucial and key stakeholders for this Big House Build: those of us who will live in these new social houses.

How are our needs going to be identified? How are our needs going to be driving design decisions at all stages of the project? For the project and the social housing it builds to be deemed a success, and deliver on its objectives, it must meet the needs of the people who will live in these new houses.

We are not all the same, and each of us have different needs.

We have physical disabilities and mental illnesses which are often the reason we live on benefits and need social housing.

Some of us might be escaping family violence. We may have faced significant trauma. Have addictions. Be parents with children. Be over 50. Need carers to live with us. Some of us might not be able to climb stairs. Need lots of natural light to address the impact of our mental illnesses. Have a dog as an emotional support animal and need a yard. Spend almost 24 hours a day in our homes because we don’t have jobs to go to or are socially isolated because of our disabilities. Need to garden as a mental health therapy or grow our own vegetables because of our food allergies and because we can’t afford to buy organic.

These are all the things I think about, and I hope the project managers, architects, planners and people making decisions about how to spend these millions and billions of dollars of social housing think about these things as well.

I ask again: how are the people who will be living in these new houses going to be consulted and engaged in this process?

Name and address supplied.