The Victorian Government hosted a Regional Affordable Housing Summit at the RACV Resort in Creswick on Tuesday. The summit provided a forum for discussion, strengthening relationships and identifying challenges and opportunities to meet the needs of regional Victoria’s growing population.

The Minister for Housing, Danny Pearson and the Minister for Regional Development, Harriet Shing, addressed the summit. Ben Rimmer, CEO of Homes Victoria, also addressed the summit.

Mr Pearson announced $219 million in grants from the Social Housing Growth Fund to build social housing across regional Victoria. The grants will provide social and affordable housing in regional Victoria to respond to the increasing population in Victoria’s growth areas and create more housing to support employment growth in regional towns and cities. He also outlined government initiatives across the state to increase affordable housing stock including:

  • Boosting social and affordable housing stock by investing $1.5b to construct 2000 new houses with 630 completed and 1373 underway.
  • Spending $116m on improvements to social housing including sustainable heating and cooling.
  • Funding the construction of 114 modular homes for worker accommodation in key regional areas experiencing accommodation shortages including Warrnambool, Mildura and Swan Hill.

Seventeen community housing agencies will receive funding for planning and construction of 46 projects that will deliver up to 683 homes in regional Victoria, creating nearly 2,600 jobs and boosting Victoria’s economic recovery.  Projects are located across 19 local government areas including five projects in the Ballarat region, one of which will provide older Victorians over the age of 55 with the dignity of a secure place to call home.

Dr Liz Allen, a demographer at ANU spoke about housing affordability issues for regional Australia. Dr Allen provided insights into housing affordability taking into account changes in household and family structure, ageing population, working from home, challenges with increasing density in towns and regionalisation. She highlighted the importance of a grass roots approach to change in regional areas using local expertise to develop innovative approaches.

The summit was attended by Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie and Shire CEO, Bradley Thomas. “We acknowledge that access to housing is a challenge with growth of population, significant housing price increases and very limited rental stock, especially affordable housing,” said Cr Drylie. “This is an issue that our Shire and region, like many others, is grappling with.”

Council adopted an Affordable Housing Policy last year, and they have started working on an Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan. These items will consider the range of responses needed to address the challenge of local affordable housing in partnership with local organisations and agencies.

“Council is in regular contact with Homes Victoria and exploring programs and opportunities as part of the State’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.  We are aware of the homelessness issue facing some vulnerable people in our community. We are currently convening a working group of service providers and stakeholders in our Shire, including Child and Family Services (CAFS) who is the funded agency, to discuss support and access to services,” said Cr Drylie.

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