(image via Wentworth)
Victoria is set to pump $1 billion into social housing as waiting lists for the state’s public housing continue to grow.
In their latest announcement, State Treasurer Tim Pallas and Minister for Housing, Disability and Aging Martin Foley announced the creation of a $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund.
Set to operate along similar lines to the Commonwealth Future Fund, the fund will essentially invest in a range of assets.
Returns from these assets will then be used as a funding stream from which to build new and affordable homes and also to subsidise rent for Victorians who are in need of housing assistance.
The government also will act as a guarantor for registered housing associations who apply for loans in order to build new social housing and to upgrade and maintain existing housing stock.
This, the government says, will enable the associations to borrow on more favourable terms by taking advantage of the government’s strong credit rating.
Further, the government will transfer the management of 4,000 public housing properties to the community housing sector.
This, it says, will help to improve tenant services through better property management, localised housing service provision and better access to support services.
Victoria currently has 33,000 people on social housing waiting lists.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the announcement represented a critical investment.
“We’re taking real action to provide more housing for Victorians in need, launching an Australian first loan program that will help housing organisations boost housing numbers,” Pallas said.
“It will mean these organisations can spend less on interest, and more on helping Victorians in need.”
Council to Homeless Persons acting Chief Executive Officer Kate Colvin welcomed the announcement, saying that placing resources into a dedicated investment vehicle will provide greater long term funding certainty for social housing.
Colvin said Victoria had a rental affordability crisis, and that community housing will become an increasingly affordable option as new stock comes online.
“Placing these resources into a growth fund to generate a flow of subsidies in perpetuity will deliver urgently needed growth and certainty,” Colvin said.
For too long, social housing funding has waxed and waned, preventing social housing developers from being able to plan ahead to develop a pipeline of new housing.”
“As new public and community housing becomes available, people unable to afford private rental will increasingly have an affordable option, preventing them becoming homeless, or enabling them to find a quicker pathway out of homelessness.”