The CEO of Victoria’s peak body for community housing has called on the State Government to continue to deliver a strong economy by directing some of its surplus to ensuring vulnerable Victorians have somewhere safe to call home.
Lesley Dredge says the government is rightly proud of its efforts that have led to Victoria becoming the nation’s powerhouse, leading the country with jobs, infrastructure investment and delivering a projected average $3.4 billion surplus over the next four years.
However, research shows investing in social and affordable housing as vital infrastructure provides significant economic benefits. City Futures Research Centre’s Professor Duncan Maclennan has found spending on affordable housing delivers significant savings in transport costs and increases productivity.
‘These results serve to reinforce the fact that there are no downsides to increased funding for social and affordable housing and that no one, particularly in a state as prosperous as Victoria, should be forced to live in fear on the streets or couch surf,’ Ms Dredge says.
‘Whilst it’s great that the budget is following through on the government’s pledge to build an additional 1,000 public housing dwellings, the need is much greater.
‘Our research shows that 3,000 new properties are needed each year for the next 10 years just to house those on the priority waitlist, which are households that are homeless, are escaping family violence, or have significant support needs.
‘The gap between what is needed, and what is being delivered, becomes even more stark at this time of year, with thousands of homeless Victorians being particularly vulnerable during long, cold nights sleeping rough,’ Ms Dredge says.
‘No Victorian should be forced to sleep in a park or laneway; we have the resources to house them, and they should be invested.
‘The government has titled this year’s budget, Delivering for all Victorians. We call on it to dip into the surplus to invest in safe and affordable housing for the benefit of all Victorians and the state as a whole.’