Earlier this month on March 1st, the Victorian Labor government decided to cancel funding for new social housing. This comes as a major blow for Victorian communities facing housing stress and homelessness.
Many Victorians say stress around housing has increased greatly since the start of the pandemic and has yet to subside. “The difference is unbelievable,” one resident said.
“I’m still looking every day [for a new place] and I’m terrified because I might have to spend up to $500 a week on a single income and that’s without food, bills, running a car and school expenses,” another Victorian stated.
The Mornington peninsula in Victoria has experienced some of the biggest jumps in rent nationwide over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In fact, seven of the top eight Victorian postcodes for rental jumps between January 2020 and 2022 were on the Mornington peninsula. In that time, rents in Blairgowrie grew by 35.4% while Rye and St Andrews Beach increased by 34.9%,” states a report from the Guardian.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam expressed disappointment with the cancellation of funding for homelessness and social housing by the Labor government. She criticized the government’s willingness to make deals with property developers and investors more so than with local communities, as well as the government’s timing to cancel funding while homelessness and the costs of living are both worsening. Ratnam wrote in a recent statement:
“This is what happens when you let property developers write your housing policy. They get to keep making massive profits on the back of more and more people being locked out of being able to afford a home. The Victorian Labor Government has revealed that they care more about what developers want than actually solving the housing and homelessness crisis we face. And that’s why this package has fallen apart. If the government was serious about real reform it would go back to the drawing board and consult with the community on a package that puts Victorians first. One with a social housing levy, inclusionary zoning, and a commitment to build more public housing…”
Evidently, with homelessness and housing issues on the rise in Victoria, local communities need all the support and funding they can get. To take funding away may lead to a further increase in homelessness regardless of the direction the COVID-19 pandemic takes.