Victoria’s Labor government has announced the awarding of several new contracts to build another set of homes across inner Melbourne as part of its $5.3 billion Big Housing Build, which aims to resolve the state’s housing crisis.
The State Government has invested more than $180 million into its partnership with the Commonwealth through its Housing Australia Future Fund. Homes Victoria is facilitating the projects that provide 40-year land leases to community housing agencies and the private sector for them to build, operate and maintain housing on until it’s returned to the public.
By early 2024 the first project is set to deliver 1110 new homes across three sites in Brighton, Flemington and Prahran; and the second will create 1370 more in South Yarra, Hampton East, Port Melbourne and on Essex Street.
According to Labor, the latter project will replace the four sites’ existing dwellings with over 650 social homes, 180 affordable homes, 470 market rentals, and 55 Specialist Disability accommodations.
The sites will deliver a 31 per cent increase in social housing, which includes a 46 per cent rise in Port Melbourne alone. The focus on inner Melbourne is due to the dilapidated state of the high-rise public housing towers, which no longer match current building codes as they were built between the 1950s and 1970s.
“Nothing is more important than finding a home,” Victoria’s Minister for Housing Harriet Shing said. “Once complete, these modern, energy efficient and accessible homes will provide housing for Victorians who need them the most.”
The government has set a target to build 800,000 homes over the next decade, of which 12,000 will be public and community housing throughout metro and regional Victoria. The goal makes Big Housing Build, which begun in 2020, Australia’s largest ever investment in social housing.
However Shadow Minister for Housing Richard Riordan said Labor’s “Big Housing Build has been a Big Let Down”. The Liberal minister referenced the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s annual report, which states that for every week since 2019 only 12 homes have been created per 26 removed.
Mr Riordan also called on Labor to release the Housing Assistance additional service delivery data report detailing the state’s housing numbers, so a “clear” government strategy can be made.
“The homelessness waiting list is growing more quickly than the Allan Labor Government can build new homes,” he said. ‘Over the last five years more families have been displaced than have been given a home.
“It is inconceivable that in the middle of a housing crisis the Labor Government cannot tell the pubic how many homes it has. New Housing Minister Harriet Shing must immediately release the public housing stocktake list her two predecessors had kept hidden, because in a housing emergency you can’t begin to solve the problem if you don’t even know what it is.”
The state’s Greens party recently wrote a letter to the government outlining their issues with Labor’s housing statement and vacancy tax changes, which they believe “would effectively do nothing to increase the number of affordable rentals or public homes”.
“Despite our state’s 125,000 public housing wait list, the plan will see 44 public housing towers demolished and thousands of residents displaced, only for most of the land to be sold off to private developers,” said Victoria’s Greens leader and Legislative Council member Samantha Ratnam.
“To ensure our support for any housing plan bills before Parliament, the government will need to commit to reforms that will work such as rent controls, and building more public housing instead of privatisation and selling off public land.”