by David Hall
Do you have a warm bed for tonight? And do you have a front door to close out the world? Many in Hepburn Shire do not!
The Victorian Department of Health tells us that in Hepburn Shire, ‘The percentage of households with rental stress is among the highest in the state.’ The amount of social housing available in the Shire is about half of the State average, ranking 51 out of 79 local government areas.
CAFS – Child and Family Services Ballarat Inc., the organization that assists people seeking housing services in Hepburn Shire and operates from the Community Health Centre in Daylesford, annually has around 100 women, children, and men across a range of ages visit them looking for housing help. Sometimes they have no home and are couch surfing, sleeping in cars or in tents. Others have inadequate housing, or housing that is too expensive for them. It can take 10-12 years to come to the top of the social housing list in Daylesford. There must be better ways to address the housing needs in the Shire.
A ‘Safe Place’ for the Shire
A small team of concerned residents called ‘Safe Place’ is working to increase the stock of affordable homes and homes for the most disadvantaged in the Shire. Safe Place was established in mid-2017 in response to community concerns about:
- the lack of housing for those who are homeless in Daylesford, and in Hepburn Shire more broadly; and,
- the lack of affordable housing for those who work in Daylesford and are forced to live elsewhere and commute long distances or to leave Daylesford and seek work in other areas where affordable housing is available.
The name ‘Safe Place’ arises from our belief that every member of our community deserves a safe place to live.
Our Council is concerned, too. Recently, four homes for those on very low incomes, funded in part by Council, were opened in Clunes. The proposed 17 Smith St, Daylesford major development is to have four lower rent homes in an expected agreement between Council and the developer.
Safe Place has asked our Council, at a recent Council Briefing Session, to adopt a pro-active set of policies to stimulate the building of more homes for those in need. Policies with specific targets and deadlines are sought. Creative thinking needs to be applied to this very difficult problem.
Other Councils have developed such policies and are achieving results. They have found ways to stimulate home building for the disadvantaged through incentives for and requirements of developers, and partnerships with Government registered housing providers and philanthropists, all at minimum cost to ratepayers.
Safe Place is seeking sites in the Shire which could be made available for new houses for those in need. Hepburn Council has been asked to review its landholdings to identify sites that could work for the development of new affordable homes. Safe Place is in contact with several registered housing providers to be ready to review sites and propose new homes.
Safe Place hopes to find sites in all wards in the Shire, available for long term use and either free of charge or at minimum cost, where plans can be made to fund, build and manage new small affordable homes. Please tell us if you know of potential sites.
For more information contact David Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org or 5348 2872. David Hall is currently Hepburn’s citizen of the year and a force for positive social change