Beyond Housing welcomes new funding

By Morgan Dyer

Beyond Housing has welcomed the Victorian Government's $498 million injection into social housing.

The funding, announced last week as part of the state government's $2.7 billion Building Works plan to kick-start the economy, includes building 168 and upgrading 23 000 social housing units.

The funding has been split for the different needs of public and community housing works.

Beyond Housing falls under the community housing umbrella and hopes to share in $50 million worth of maintenance upgrades and $125 million for projects that increase housing options for domestic violence victims, indigenous Victorians and people leaving Victorian Government services.

Beyond Housing chief executive officer Celia Adams said Victoria’s plan to renovate social housing properties could provide some immediate benefits to tenants as well as help stimulate the local economy and boost employment.

“The Victorian Government has shown a real commitment to the rapid construction of social housing across Victoria, and with at least 25 per cent of maintenance and upgrade funding earmarked for regional areas it could mean a lot of activity happening for local businesses,” Ms Adams said.

“We would be keen to take part in funded projects that not only allow us to keep our stock in good condition to keep people housed now, but to continue to increase the number of people we can house for the future.

“A home provides dignity and safety for those that live in it, and upgrading social housing will benefit our tenants whilst creating jobs and kick-starting the local economy,” she said.

Ms Adams said more details were expected to be released in the coming weeks and expressions of interest would be a rapid application and assessment process, with funding flowing to successful applicants to begin works as soon as possible.

The Victorian Public Tenants Association also welcomed the announcement of cash boost for public housing.

VPTA executive officer Mark Feenane said the government funding will improve the quality of 15 000 public housing properties, and enable the construction of 110 new properties.

“This much needed funding will restore dignity and safety to the lives of many people who live in public housing and who have been waiting a long time to see very serious maintenance issues addressed,” Mr Feenane said.

“It will also extend the useful life of many existing public housing properties — ensuring more Victorians are able to live in safety and security.”

However Mr Feenane said Victoria needed to build 6000 new social housing properties every year for the next 10 years to bring social housing stock up to the national average and hoped a construction blitz would soon be announced.

“Now is not the time for complacency; this is a great start — but it’s not game over,” Mr Feenane said.

“We can’t forget the tens of thousands of families on the waiting list. The government must build new public housing to ensure they have a place to call home.”

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