Victoria’s Housing Statement fails older Victorians in housing insecurity

The Victorian Government’s Housing Statement fails to take the steps necessary to address the housing crisis facing more than 180,000 older Victorians and contains too little investment in public housing, according to Housing for the Aged Action Group.

The Housing Statement, unveiled on Tuesday, says it will “unlock” surplus government land for developers to deliver 9,000 homes on 45 sites across the state, however, only 10% of this is “affordable housing”. In addition, the government will relocate 10,000 public housing tenants currently living in 44 public housing towers, so that they can demolish and rebuilt a mixture of private and social housing for 30,000 people, with only a 10% increase in social housing and 19,000 private dwellings. Many of these towers are 55+ older persons high rises.

HAAG Executive Officer Fiona York says that government land is valuable and should be reserved for government-owned public housing.

“This announcement sees government handing over land to private developers in exchange for developments including 10% affordable homes – not public housing, not community housing, but affordable housing – which too often is not affordable to those on our lowest incomes,” she says.

“Currently “Affordable” housing in Victoria can mean homes appropriate for people with incomes up to $71,000. The issue is there is little incentive for developers to build homes for those on the lowest incomes – many of whom are older people.

“We can’t rely on the goodwill of private developers. There is no market-based solution for the 85,000 older Victorians on low incomes struggling to afford private rental, in marginal housing or currently homeless. Victoria needs to build at least 60,000 public and community homes by 2030 so older people on low incomes have access to safe, secure and affordable homes as they age.”

“This is a missed opportunity for Victoria to lead the way in ending homelessness. Instead, we have an unprecedented attack on public housing tenants and a developers bonanza of in the form of free land with fewer planning rules.”

The statement includes some reforms to improve renting in Victoria  – a short stay levy, banning rental bidding, restricting rent increases between fixed-term rental agreements, larger notice periods for rent increases and notices to vacate, and introducing a portable bond scheme.

Also welcome are 769 new social housing homes, which will be supported by funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Social Housing Accelerator. However this falls well short of what is required to address Victoria’s housing crisis.

For more information about the Housing Statement, read RMIT's Centre for Urban Research Explainer