Social housing boom

June 6, 2021 BY

$20 million has been committed to increase social housing on the Surf Coast

THE Surf Coast Shire council has endorsed plans to help deliver a $20 million commitment to social housing in the region.

During last week’s meeting, council unanimously carried a motion to release a draft Social Housing Plan prepared in partnership with the G21 Regional Alliance Social Housing Project.

The draft is now available for community feedback and was built off the back of the City of Greater Geelong’s Social Housing Plan 2020-41 and positions the shire to work with the state government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.

The state initiative will create 12,000 new dwellings and support 10,000 new jobs each year over the next four years across Victoria.

Up to $20 million has been committed to increase social housing on the Surf Coast following reports that renters were being forced out.

In January, local real estate agent Bryan Hayden from Hayden Real Estate confirmed there was zero vacancy for rentals in the area – something which has not been seen for more than 30 years.

Councillor Kate Gazzard said the shire was in a position to address the shortfall of social housing.

“The basis of this is developing a positive region-wide blueprint for driving economic recovery post pandemic, building jobs for local people and addressing disadvantage by reducing levels of rental stress for people living on low and very low incomes,” she said.

Council’s draft plan focuses on households within the region that are living on a modest income and spending more than 30 per cent of their pay on unaffordable housing.

Census data from 2016 showed there are 62 social housing properties in the shire with an unmet demand for an additional 335 homes.

Mayor Libby Stapleton said council had an opportunity to take action to address housing stress in the community while working with the Victorian Government to identify the needs of residents.

“The $5.3 billion Big Housing Build includes a commitment from state government to spend at least $20 million in the Surf Coast Shire to help those most in need of a place to live,” she said.

“The reality is there are families in our shire and across the state that are spending so much on putting a roof over their heads that they are having to choose between paying bills, or buying food, replacing school uniforms or getting much-needed tyres for the car.”

The project builds on the city’s work to develop regional responses to social housing shortages in the Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire and the Borough of Queenscliffe.

“Poverty in our community is real, it triggers housing stress and causes long-term issues for health and wellbeing,” Cr Stapleton said.

“Now, with this significant injection of state government funding, we can start to close the gap on the shortage of affordable housing for people not just in our region but across our state.”

Residents can have their say on the Draft Social Housing Plan by heading to the council website before June 23.