Victorian Inquiry recommends building 60,000 new social homes and starts an important conversation about what ‘affordable housing’ really means

Building 60,000 new social housing homes, an improved definition of ‘affordable housing’, tackling discrimination in the private rental market, and improving security of tenure are recommendations from the Inquiry into the Rental and Housing Affordability Crisis in Victoria that will help protect older Victorians from homelessness.

Housing for the Aged Action Group Executive Officer Fiona York said the final report, which the Legislative Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee released today, includes a number of recommendations that, if implemented by Government, would help prevent many older people from falling into housing crisis and homelessness.

“More and more Victorians are being forced to rely on the private rental market as they age, or entering retirement with a mortgage. This is a direct result of the nation’s housing crisis and is having a disastrous impact on the lives of those older people on lowest incomes,” York says.

“Above all, we need more public and community housing, so older people who need a home can access one. It’s great to see the Inquiry call for 60,000 more social homes to be built by 2034. A portion of those homes should be set aside for older people and the vast majority should be public homes.”

Other recommendations that will make a difference for older Victorians struggling with housing include:
•    Set a consistent and clear definition of ‘affordable housing’ that is required to be adopted across government departments, policy and agreements with the private sector.
•    Exploring further ways to increase the rate of long-term leases.
•    Fund Consumer Affairs Victoria to improve provision of multilingual advice services.
•    That the government focus on the Inquiry’s recommendations related to ensuring the ongoing funding of homelessness services and specialised housing for high-risk and vulnerable cohorts.

“Some definitions of affordable housing include references to market rate. It’s common sense that 80% of market rent in the current climate is not ‘affordable’ to older people and others on low incomes,” York says.

“For ‘affordable housing’ to truly be ‘affordable’ it should be no more of 30% of a person’s income. This would provide another housing option for older Victorians on low incomes struggling to find a home.

“Older people need security of tenure in order to age in place and remain connected to family, friends, community and services they know and trust. Making it easier for tenants to access long term leases is sorely needed.

“With demand for housing support among older Victorians on the rise, it’s crucial that funding for services that recognise the specific needs of older people, like Home at Last, grows alongside that demand.
HAAG looks forward to working with the Victorian Government to ensure all older Victorians have a safe, secure place to call home.