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    Josh Koenig.

Housing injection alleviates pressure


Service provider Uniting Wimmera has described a major social housing project as a ‘life changing’ opportunity for people struggling to secure accommodation across the region. 

Horsham will gain a minimum $15-million to build public housing homes as part of a State Government plan.

The project is part of a $5.3-billion injection to scale up public housing availability over the next four years, with a quarter of all money to be invested in regional Victoria. 

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Uniting Wimmera executive officer Josh Koenig said the public housing build would respond to a ‘desperate need’ in the region.

He said the Horsham rental market failed to keep pace with demand, leaving people on wait lists for months or even years. 

“The pressure has been immense. We have north of about 50 singles on our wait lists for affordable housing. That’s 50 too many,” he said. 

“There have been people who have waited weeks, months or even years for housing opportunities.”

Mr Koenig said lack of long-term planning to build social and affordable housing in Horsham had led to poorer outcomes for people who were already struggling to break into the rental market. 

“Horsham doesn’t seem like it can keep up with the growth – more and more people want to come here, but there’s not enough housing,” he said. 

“There’s extra businesses and trade coming to Horsham. 

“Major projects such as wind farms being built have contributed to properties being snapped up. 

“That’s a real positive for the region’s economy, but it’s just another factor we have to consider.” 

Premier Daniel Andrews said the new homes would be ‘modern and affordable’ and meet seven-star energy efficiency standards, making them more comfortable during summer and winter, and saving tenants on their power bills.

Mr Koenig said there was a demand for single or two-bedroom properties in the Wimmera. 

“We have a lot of single people looking for single-bedroom properties and smaller families or couples on our lists,” he said. 

“This highlights the lack of smaller-
type dwellings in the Wimmera.

“We have a lot of three or four-bedroom houses, but not a lot of smaller options.” 

Mr Koenig said having access to a secure home would be ‘life changing’, particularly for people experiencing homelessness. 

“If your circumstances change, your family breaks down or you find yourself out on your own, that impacts all aspects of your life,” he said. 

“But if you have a roof over your head and you and your family are safe, you actually have a base to look for work or anything else you need to get on track – it’s a ripple effect.” 

Ararat, Northern Grampians, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and West Wimmera local government areas will also share in $485-million, which is yet to be allocated across regional Victoria. 

State Government agency Homes Victoria is encouraging local governments to identify opportunities, such as vacant council land, and to work with community housing providers to start project partnerships.

The state government will also build 1000 new units for indigenous Australians, 1000 for domestic violence survivors and 2000 for people living with a mental illness across Victoria. 

Housing minister Richard Wynne said the plans would create more than 12,000 homes across the state and more than 10,000 jobs a year. 

“The economic and social benefits of the program will be distributed widely across Melbourne and regional Victoria,” he said. 

“There will be $15-million spent in Horsham, supporting the community with about 135 full-time equivalent jobs, as well as safe and affordable housing for those who need it.

“This package will boost Victoria’s social housing supply by 10 percent in just four years – providing a stable foundation for thousands of Victorians to build their lives.”

The State Government expects 11,000 dwellings will be completed by June 2023, with another 1300 completed by June 2024.

The entire November 18, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!