Changing the guard: short and long term housing policy challenges for labor

Below, CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons (@cphVIC) provides CPH's perspectives on the short and longterm challenges of tackling homelessness in Victoria for the incoming government


We are pleased to see that the ALP has committed more than $15 million over four years to some important housing and homelessness initiatives, including $5 million for three organisations providing day programs for vulnerable people (replacing some of the funding lost to homelessness providers  (through the re-commissioning of mental health services) and $500,000 promised to The Big Issue to establish a social enterprise that raises money to create up to 100 new social housing properties per year across the country. $10 million has been promised to upgrade  rooming houses in partnership with local government, and also a commitment to introduce a ‘fit and proper person’ test for rooming house operators. The latter is a key recommendation from CHP’s rooming house report released earlier this year.

The ALP will also introduce a range of rental reforms including providing better protection to tenants of caravan parks and moveable dwellings, and introducing longer leases which would help improve housing certainty for vulnerable people in private rental.

We welcome the introduction of a pilot of inclusionary zoning (which requires new residential developments on former-Government land to include a minimum proportion of affordable housing) and density bonuses (whereby developers are given approval to build a greater number of dwellings on a plot of land if some of them are social housing).  At this stage the ALP has not outlined a strategy for tackling the chronic shortage of affordable housing.

The ALP has committed to rectify the cuts made to the Social Housing and Advocacy Support Program (SHASP).

In relation to family violence, the ALP have committed to a $22M package of initiatives, and the trial of duress alarms and CCTV for at-risk women. This is in addition to the promise of a Royal Commission into family violence, which can be anticipated to take in issues of housing.  The ALP has committed to implement all the recommendations arising from such a Royal Commission.

While acknowledging the above commitments, we’d now like to see a cohesive strategy that outlines how we as a a community will tackle youth homelessness, eliminate family homelessness, reduce rough sleeping and address the chronic shortage of affordable housing which underpins so much homelessness. With 34,600 people waiting for public housing in Victoria and 22,000 people homeless on any given night, we cannot solve homelessness through piecemeal initiatives. The Council to Homeless Persons election platform called for $216 million over four years to invest in strategies that address and prevent homelessness, and a further $200 million per annum for 20 years to build 800 new affordable dwellings each year for people on low incomes.

We welcome the ALP’ initiatives, however we are disappointed that neither major party has put forward a real plan that spells out how we as a community will end homelessness. The solutions are at our fingertips, we just need the political will to make them happen.

The community is looking to the new Government for leadership in ending homelessness.