Work has commenced on the biggest social and affordable housing program in Victoria’s history.
The ambitious 10-year strategy, dubbed the Big Housing Build, aims to address the growing waiting list for social housing has ballooned to more than 48,000 households, an increase of more than 8000 in the second half of 2020.
The Victorian government provided $5.3 billion in funding for the program in its budget last year which will go towards adding more than 14,000 dwellings, replacing 1100 old public housing units, to the state’s social and affordable public housing stock.
At its centre of the scheme is the commitment to getting vulnerable people into social housing, providing them with services to help them get back on track and offering pathways to private rental accommodation.
Upwards of 200 dwellings across six buildings are now underway at the state’s government's first site, Dunlop Avenue in Ascot Vale, replacing 80 existing dwellings that have been demolished.
At least of 5 per cent of dwellings across the development will be for people with a disability.
Dunlop Avenue is one of six fast-start sites—in Ascot Vale, Ashburton, Flemington, Hawthorn, Richmond and West Heidelberg—where planning or pre-construction work has already begun.
In addition, two development sites on Hopkins Street in Footscray and Plenty Road in South Morang have been secured.
More than 50 new social housing dwellings will be built on those sites, with further 113 dwellings set to be secured in projects currently under construction or ready-to-build.
“For thousands of Victorians, safe, secure and affordable housing is still out of reach—but we’re changing that, and we’re not wasting a minute getting to work,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said.
“Our [strategy] will give Victorians who need it, a roof over their head and create thousands of local jobs—supporting our state’s recovery.”
Victoria has the lowest proportion of social housing in Australia. Only 3.2 per cent of Victoria’s housing stock is social housing, about 81,000 dwellings, below the national average of 4.2 per cent.
The state government now expects the initiative to boost the state’s social housing supply by 10 per cent within four years as well as drumming up $6.7 billion in economic activity and underwriting 10,000 jobs per year over.
The state government will also invest $948 million to spot-purchase properties for fast-start projects and buy new homes in construction projects that are either in progress or ready to build.
This investment will secure 1600 social housing properties and 200 affordable homes.
More than 60 houses have already been purchased across the state, with a further 295 to be secured in coming months.
Homes Victoria, the new agency tasked with delivering social housing, expects the number of new applicants for social housing to rise due to the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.