Victoria must add 1,700 new social housing dwellings per year to keep pace with population growth; academic report

A new report stemming from the Royal Commission into Family Violence has found that Victoria needs to add 1,700 new social housing dwellings per year for the next 20 years if it is to maintain current social housing levels.

Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence underlined the experience of our sector, of the shortage of affordable housing and its impact sometimes forcing women to return to a violent partner, or preventing them from leaving in the first place.

The Commission process has helped shift community conversations from ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ to ‘Where would she go?’, and has resulted in a number of key pieces of work to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing for people experiencing family violence.  This includes Minister Martin Foley initiating the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce, chaired by Jenny Smith, CEO of CHP .

A new report commissioned by the  Taskforce has used predicted population growth to calculate how many more social housing properties are needed in the coming years.

The report, Victoria’s Social Housing Supply Requirements to 2036, was produced by Dr Judy Yates, from the University of Sydney and found:

  • 1,700 more social housing homes are needed each year over the next 20 years to maintain social housing at its current 3.5 per cent share of the total homes in Victoria. This is an increase of over 30,000 social homes over the next 20 years
  • Double this number of social housing homes is needed over the next 20 years if lower income households, currently facing housing stress in the private rental market, are to have affordable housing.

Dr Yates’ report emphasises that simply maintaining the status quo is not enough, stating that the projected 1,700 properties p.a. would be ‘inadequate to meet future needs’ based on the following evidence:

  • Currently, with social housing at 3.5% of all housing, there are 35,000 people on the Victorian public housing waiting list
  • the number of people on low incomes in rent stress is rising; previous analysis of Census data indicates that there is a shortfall of 65,000 affordable and available private rentals in Victoria.
  • Analysis of population and income data suggests that there are tens of thousands of people eligible for social housing not reflected on waiting lists, possibly because they are discouraged by the long wait times.

The Taskforce will now turn its focus to the complex tasks of providing government with advice about both the future demand for social housing and best practice housing support models, for victim survivors of family violence.