The Victorian Government must build more social housing to prevent a spike in homelessness

14 May 2020

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the past few months, thousands of Victorians have been placed in temporary accommodation. Now that restrictions are being lifted, many are facing sudden eviction into homelessness. 

This is unacceptable. The best way to prevent homelessness is to provide people with access to safe, permanent housing with supports. Secure and stable housing plays a significant role in improving the lives and wellbeing of marginalised Victorians by preventing the escalation of significant social and legal issues, including family violence, mental health and substance dependence. That’s why we, alongside Victoria’s housing and homelessness peak bodies, are launching Make Social Housing Work — a new blueprint for Victoria to increase its proportion of social housing to the national average. 

Victoria is the worst in the nation when it comes to social housing. Only 3.2 per cent of all housing stock is public or community housing. Introducing our framework would increase Victoria’s social housing share to the national average of 4.5 per cent. To get there, the housing groups are urging the Victorian Government to commit to creating 6,000 new social housing properties each year for ten years, with at least 300 Aboriginal housing units a year.

On the launch of the Make Social Housing Work, Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey said, “Every day, we see vulnerable Victorians on the brink of homelessness or without a home because they simply can’t afford the rent. If the Victorian Government builds more social housing, people can exit homelessness for good.”  

Unless the Victorian government delivers long-term social housing options, the state will see a large resurgence of rough sleeping and homelessness. We know that people who are homeless experience high levels of legal need, and are vulnerable to substantial and multiple legal problems. Making sure people have secure housing allows them to live safe, meaningful lives, and address multiple, inter-connected legal and social needs. 

Over 2,000 Victorians who are staying in temporary accommodation during COVID-19 urgently need this housing. So do the 82,000 Victorians on the social housing waitlist, including over 25,000 children. 

In addition to keeping people safe and housed after the COVID pandemic, a social housing construction blitz would provide much needed stimulus to the Victorian economy. 

Join the Everybody’s Home campaign by asking Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to support Victoria’s homeless and ensure those who are currently in temporary housing do not end up back on the street.