Looking for homelessness or housing support? Find Help

Victoria’s alarming social housing wait time blowouts spark calls for action


Victorians in desperate need of social housing are waiting far longer than the national average, a new report has revealed.

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2022 report released on Tuesday shows an average wait time of 17 months for 50 per cent of the greatest need households in Victoria.

The national average is six months.

The report also shows an increasing proportion of people accessing homelessness services are employed.  This coincides with inflation rapidly outpacing wage growth and housing becoming increasingly unaffordable, even for people with jobs.

In 2021/22, there was an almost four percentage-point increase in people aged 15 and above who have a job accessing specialist homelessness services compared to 2017/18 (18.3% in 2021/22 compared to 14.5% in 2017/18). 

There was a 5.5 percentage point increase for Indigenous people who had a job accessing specialist homelessness services in 2021/22 (14.6% had a job when accessing homeless services in 2021/22 up from 9.1% in 2017/18).

Victorian homelessness services delivered 1.2 million more support days in 2021/22 than in 2017/18.

One in three (30.1 per cent) specialist homelessness services clients in Victoria experience persistent homelessness (homeless for 7 months or more in a 24 month period), higher than the national average of 26.6 per cent.

The figure rises to 36.9 per cent for Aboriginal people.

More than a third (37 per cent) of all specialist homelessness services clients who needed mental health services were not provided with or referred to support. The figure was 45 per cent for Indigenous clients.

“Victoria’s housing crisis is completely out of control with the people in greatest need of social dwellings waiting almost three times longer than the national average in some cases,” Council to Homeless Persons Chief Executive Officer Jenny Smith said.

“The massive blowout in wait times shows the incredible human cost of the state’s massive social housing shortfall.

“It’s absolutely critical the government continues its social housing investment past next year, to guarantee 6000 new homes are build each year for at least the next decade.

“Rampant inflation is fuelling an increase in Victoria’s working poor being pushed into homelessness. Almost one in five Victorian accessing specialist homelessness services in the last financial year had a job.

“This report also sadly shows the shocking disparity Indigenous people face in housing outcomes. We need specific and targeted measures like increased funding for Aboriginal community-controlled housing organisations.

“We need to lock in funding to continue and extend hugely successful programs like From Homelessness to a Home, which provides those wraparound measures that are so important to keeping people housed.

“This report should be sounding alarm bells for the Victorian Government. The solutions are in reach, we just desperately need the political will to match the scale of our deepening housing crisis.”

Subscribe to CHP eNews

Get the latest homelessness insights and updates straight to your inbox with Council to Homeless Persons eNews.