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Victorians want more public housing: poll

Published: 5 August 2020

More than three-quarters of Victorians want the state government to build more public and community housing as part of its response to COVID-19.

About 77 per cent of Victorians support building more homes for people on low-incomes and those who are homeless, according to a poll commissioned by the Housing Peaks Alliance.

Support was consistently strong across all demographics including age, sex and political affiliation - 84 per cent of Labor voters and 78 per cent of Coalition voters backed the move.

About 83 per cent of those polled also believe the government should be doing more to end homelessness.

Meanwhile, the state's upper house inquiry into homelessness released an interim report on Tuesday.

It found advocacy groups, those working in homelessness services and the community members all see public housing as the top issue to consider when addressing homelessness.

Of the 427 groups and individuals who provided their views, 121 marked public housing as their first priority, followed by housing affordability and rough sleeping.

Taken together, the public housing and housing affordability priority areas made up more than half the first preference responses.

According to the Victorian Council of Social Service, Victoria has the lowest proportion of social housing in Australia.

About 25,000 people are homeless on any given night, and more than 100,000 are stuck on the state's housing waitlist.

Modelling completed before the COVID-19 pandemic found Victoria needs to build at least 6000 new public and community housing properties each year for a decade.

Community groups are calling on the state and federal governments to work together to address the shortfall.

"The Victorian people are speaking with one voice here. They want the Victorian government to build more public and community housing. People want a big build to end homelessness," VCOSS CEO Emma King said in a statement on Wednesday.

Community Housing Industry Association Victoria CEO Lesley Dredge agreed the issue was "above politics".

"Everybody needs a home. The message is clear; let's get building," she said.

Last week, the state government announced more than 2000 homeless Victorians who have been put up in hotels during the pandemic can stay until at least April, while they are helped to find long-term housing.

The government pledged to lease 1100 properties from the private rental market to provide permanent homes for people when they leave the hotels and the first of 1000 new social housing units promised at the 2018 election are soon to become available.

Australian Association of Social Workers national president Christine Craik says the initiative needs to happen on a more permanent basis across the country.

"This pandemic has wreaked havoc with our most vulnerable communities and if there is to be one positive thing to come out of this, let that legacy be that this was the time we took a different path around social housing and committed ourselves to eradicating homelessness forever," she said.

* National Homeless Week runs from August 2 to 8. This year's theme is Everybody Needs a Home.

Australian Associated Press

This article appeared in the Young Witness.

This article appeared in the Canberra Times.

This article appeared in the Wauchope Gazette.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers