East West Link houses provide opportunity to increase social housing stock

Next Monday, 31st August, is the final day that the people who had their homes acquired as part of the East West Link development can apply to buy back their homes. There have been some applications, although the precise figure is unclear; regardless, there will be properties left over once this process is complete.

The housing and homelessness sector has applied to have 40 of the properties used for social housing.  Specifically, CHP believes these houses provide an excellent opportunity for the State Government to kick start a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program. Permanent Supportive Housing is an approach to getting long term rough sleepers into housing, as well as providing ongoing support to help them maintain that housing. Most of Victoria’s housing assistance programs are able help people over a specific time limited period. However, the reality is that around five percent of the homeless population will need help with their tenancy on an ongoing basis, and varying in intensity from time to time; many for the rest of their lives.

Permanent Supportive Housing programs have a track record of success. For example a program in New York has managed to keep 80 percent of people in housing, compared with just 30 percent who received the regular response. Here in Melbourne, after 12 months 77 percent of people in the Street to Home program were in independent, secure accommodation. At the moment approximately 1,000 people sleep rough in Victoria each night. To start reducing this figure for good, the State Government needs to provide at least 100 properties with permanent support attached to them each year.

To put this in perspective, to get Victoria’s social housing stock up to the national average of 5 percent, the State Government needs to create thousands more dwellings. Given that access to houses is one of the main barriers to the development of social housing, these homes matched with support, will give the State Government a great start on reducing the number of people who are sleeping rough in Victoria.