By Callum Ludwig
Local homelessness crisis service Anchor Community Care has welcomed the Victorian Government’s Victorian Housing Statement released last month, believing it ‘takes vital steps forward in addressing chronic housing shortage in Victoria.’
Fiona Nicholls, Anchor’s acting CEO, expressed optimism about the Statement’s potential to address the housing crisis over the coming 10 years.
“Anything that opens up more rentals and improves access to housing is desperately needed in the Yarra Ranges,” she said.
“Investment in social, public, and community housing has been neglected by successive governments over a number of decades. This Statement is a step in the right direction to bring into attention the importance of social and community housing that will help to lower the very concerning number of Victorians entering homelessness due to housing and rental stress.”
Over 1600 people in the Outer East are on a waiting list for access to social housing.
Mrs Nicholls said that there are still many specifics to be ironed out.
“The proposed reforms to planning laws will take some time and will no doubt hit snags along the way,” she said.
“Particularly in the Yarra Ranges, where residents often come up against complex scenarios, we’re nevertheless hopeful that in the long run, problems will start to get solved and great outcomes achieved.”
While pleased by the investment, Anchor also supports the view of the Council to Homeless Persons that the required amount of social housing needed is closer to 60,000 new homes over the next 10 years.
Mrs Nicholls said the Statement creates a positive climate for increasing the number of programs such as Youth Foyers and Anchor’s Supporting Transitions program.
“These initiatives offer young people a safe and stable place to grow, reducing their likelihood of entering or re-entering homelessness,” she said.
“New investments in housing and accommodation will grow exponentially if the new Housing Statement delivers on its promise to bring in the likes of super funds and others to inject investment capital into areas that need growth, such as the Yarra Ranges.”
Anchor would also like to see more targeted support for factors that often drive homelessness such as domestic violence, mental health, alcohol/drug issues, and education and employment.
“Without adequate local services to address the root causes of homelessness, a substantial portion of the population will continue to struggle to exit the homelessness system, regardless of the number of available houses,” Mrs Nicholls said.