While the Victorian economy is booming and thousands of new jobs are being created, economic growth has a dark side.
More than 40,000 people in Victoria were “evicted into homelessness” last financial year, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). This figure was only 17,930 in 2011-2012.
Meanwhile, the Andrews government’s mid-year state budget forecast revealed that it expected to collect $6.57bn in land transfer duty over 2017-18, compared to $3.3bn in 2011-12.
The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) wants the state government to use this windfall to build more social housing and prevent vulnerable Victorians from being evicted into homelessness.
In its Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19, the CHP called on the Victorian government to build 14,500 new social housing dwellings over the next five years, as well as respond effectively to chronic homelessness with Permanent Supportive Housing.
Jenny Smith, CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons, said the rise in evictions was due to a lack of affordable housing and rising rents.
“We have a housing affordability crisis and so we know people on the lowest incomes are really struggling to get into the market,” Smith told Pro Bono News. “For people on the lowest incomes, there are hardly any properties coming onto the market that they can afford. So when people find themselves in circumstances where they are being evicted, then increasingly homelessness is the outcome.”
Last year, the Andrews government announced its $1bn Social Housing Growth Fund. The fund’s primary goal is to provide dedicated assistance to community housing associations that help support up to 2,200 households.
While Smith lauded the state government for taking actionable steps to combat homelessness, she said the lack of federal assistance meant more had to be done by the state government to address the issue.
“We are leaning on the state government to triple their [current] efforts and guarantee the growth of social housing in the future by linking it to the rise in stamp duty,” she said.