Progress made on secure and affordable housing vision

An important step has been taken as part of the Council’s ambitious plan to facilitate an increase of 12,000 new safe, secure and affordable housing properties in Greater Geelong over the next 20 years.

A recent estimate found 7,200 families needed housing across the municipality, however there were only 3,300 properties in the area.

Stable housing is essential to mental and physical wellbeing and community safety, contributes to the local economy and plays a role in community members accessing health, education and employment services and opportunities.

Amid predictions the region will need 13,500 dwellings by 2041, the Social Housing Plan 2020-2041 was adopted to assist the state government in increasing social housing stock.

Last night, the Council voted to establish a charitable Geelong Affordable Housing Trust that will be able to hold assets and funding provided by the City and the private sector.

It will ensure ongoing accountability for the City’s investment and enable the housing program to access charity tax concessions, grants and housing subsidies.

An existing Registered Housing Association will be appointed as trustee following an Expression of Interest process, giving it the right to use these assets and funding to provide and/or manage affordable rental housing for low income households.

Work implementing the Social Housing Plan will continue in the new financial year, with the support of $230,000 proposed in the Draft 2021-22 Budget.

A range of activities have commenced since the plan was adopted, including the ‘100 dwellings feasibility study’ which has been jointly funded by the Council and Homes Victoria.

The study aims to identify whether surplus council land is suitable for social housing by carrying out a dwelling and economic analysis on selected sites. It will be an important leverage for significant funding opportunities from state and federal governments.

The Victorian Government’s Big Housing Build initiative announced last year is set to have a significant impact on the establishment of a charitable trust, with a maximum guarantee investment of $180 million over the next four years for the Geelong region.

The Affordable SocialHousing Advisory Committee was consulted about the potential creation of a trust at its meeting last month.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said having enough affordable housing to meet demand is fundamental to having an inclusive and sustainable region.

Having a stable roof over your head is a basic human right and yet there are community members who are homeless or experiencing housing stress in Greater Geelong.

We need long-term financial commitments from all levels of government to ensure our most vulnerable residents have a safe and secure space to call home, which will allow them to thrive in our community.

Councillor Sarah Mansfield, Chair, Social Housing portfolio said many people are just a job loss, a workplace injury, a relationship breakdown, or a major illness away from losing their homes.

Without stable housing, dealing with other challenges in life becomes exponentially harder, and the financial and social costs to the broader community grow.

Local governments can play a crucial role in influencing housing affordability through supply of land, and through planning and development decisions.

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