Draft strategy tackles affordable housing shortage

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Infrastructure Victoria has today called for a major investment in affordable and social housing for Victoria’s most vulnerable as one of the top priorities of its draft 30-year infrastructure strategy.

According to Infrastructure Victoria’s estimates, up to 100,000 low income Victorians are currently living under extreme financial stress and without access to affordable housing – equivalent to the entire crowd filling the MCG at Saturday’s AFL Grand Final.

Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Michel Masson said the draft strategy aimed to address this gaping – and growing – shortage of affordable housing for Victorian’s most vulnerable by investing billions in new housing stock.

 “The lack of affordable housing for vulnerable Victorians is a problem we can’t ignore,” Mr Masson said.

“As our population grows and house affordability becomes a greater issue, this problem is only going to get worse.  Immediate and decisive action is required,” Mr Masson said.

Infrastructure Victoria could not set a specific target, but evidence suggests an estimated 30,000 additional affordable dwellings may need to be provided within the next 10 years.

 “While additional dwellings won’t solve the entire problem, it will make a big difference and that is why we’ve made investing in affordable and social housing one of our top three priorities for action,” Mr Masson said.

“The first step is for government to develop a comprehensive plan for providing access to affordable housing, either through subsidies or increasing supply.”

The draft strategy recommends a raft of initiatives to increase supply and improve the condition and suitability of affordable housing including:

  • Extending the current state government rental assistance programs to help low income Victorians rent in the private market
  • Refurbishing and replacing public housing to ensure it is in better condition, fit-for-purpose and better located
  • Removing any planning barriers for affordable housing
  • Introducing inclusionary zoning to require developers to allocate a proportion of developments as affordable housing near public transport and services
  • Significantly expanding crisis and transitional housing, by up to 1000 new places
  • Incentivising private sector investment in affordable housing

Mr Masson said providing housing support or rental subsidies to at-risk Victorians had much wider social and economic benefits by reducing homelessness.

“While the cost of providing affordable housing may be significant, the cost of doing nothing will be even greater as it flows on to our welfare system, our healthcare system and our justice system – and that is a cost that will not just be measured in dollars,” Mr Masson said. 

The draft strategy has been released for consultation before the final 30-year infrastructure strategy is delivered to Parliament in December.

To read the draft strategy and supporting technical documents, or provide feedback, visit the consultation website. The consultation period closes on 31 October 2016.

For media enquiries contact Anna Whitelaw - 0438 500 294 or media@infrastructurevictoria.com.au