Almost 110,000 Melbourne households are suffering from rental housing stress.
And in regional Victoria, 35,900 households are experiencing homelessness, living in “overcrowded” properties such as rooming houses, or spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, according to a new report by the Community Housing Industry Association.
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CHIA Victoria acting chief Jess Pomeroy said with 109,900 Melbourne properties – 6 per cent of the city’s homes – now in stress, the government’s $5.3bn Big Housing Build would fall drastically short of the 60,000 new social housing properties needed in the state across the next decade.
The Quantifying Australia’s Unmet Housing Need study revealed Melbourne’s worst-affected area was the west, from Footscray to Melton where 20,000 households (6.9 per cent of the area’s households) are in stress.
The northwest from Glenroy to Sunbury had 9900 households (6.7 per cent) in housing stress, and the southeast 19,200 households (6.6 per cent).
Geelong had 7500 stressed households (5.9 per cent).
Most of Melbourne had an “over-representation of families with children” experiencing housing stress, including 6237 households in the northwest.
Ms Pomeroy said the state government’s commitment to build 9300 new social homes under the Big Housing Build was “a great start, but there needs to be a lot more”.
She called for $6bn to be spent on 20,000 new Victorian social housing properties in the next 10 years as property prices and rents surge.
“We urgently need governments to provide a clear, long-term funding pipeline for social and affordable housing beyond the Big Housing Build,” Ms Pomeroy said.
“We’ll be seeing a lot of people having to make tough choices between rent and between heating and food.”
She added that the government should use the 2026 Commonwealth Games athletes’ villages in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Shepparton and Gippsland for long-term social and affordable housing.
Across regional Victoria, a total of 5.7 per cent of households are experiencing housing stress.
Tenants Victoria chief Jennifer Beveridge said her organisation “strongly supports the call to build more social and affordable housing”.
“We also recognise that we need to prioritise solutions to the current problems in the private rental market, which is where most people rent their home,” she said.
Housing stress is now a concern for 640,000 households nationwide, with the figure projected to reach 940,000 by 2041.
A state government spokesperson said: “We know there is demand for social and affordable housing right across Victoria.
“That’s why we’re investing more than ever in social and affordable housing with the historic $5.3bn Big Housing Build, which will deliver more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes.”
The spokesperson said part of the Commonwealth Games villages would be converted to affordable and social housing.
Under the Big Housing Build, more than 7400 homes have been completed or are underway.
Social housing tenant Sam said she wakes up everyday feeling “super grateful” for her property.
The support worker lives in Melbourne’s southeast with her partner Sunloch, who receives a permanent disability pension, and their seven-year-old daughter Amber.
Her partner had already been on the state’s social housing waiting list for years, when they started dating 12 years ago.
They moved between private rental homes about five times when successive landlords decided to sell or move their own families in.
In one house they leased, possums and rats lived in the walls.
Sam’s family ended up living in just two rooms due to the badly leaking roof and walls which contained animal faeces.
“It even leaked on our daughter’s cot, luckily not while she was in there,” Sam said.
They moved into their current home just before Victoria’s first Covid lockdown, after it became available through the not-for-profit Housing Choices.
“Every day I wake up super grateful for this place because I know a lot of families struggle at the moment, even if they can afford a rental home they can’t find a place,” Sam said.
Sam and her partner have won several prizes in Housing Choices’ Home is Where the Art is competition across the past three years for their artistic creations.
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Story Credit: news.com.au