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15 September 2021
The entire September 15, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By DEAN LAWSON
A developer is on the hunt for a 1.21-hectare parcel of land in Horsham for a new multi-million-dollar ‘social and affordable’ housing project.
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Ballarat-based Elmstone Property Group is exploring site options for an $8.2-million, 31-house development on behalf of community housing provider Haven Home Safe and the State Government.
The State Government has provided Haven Home Safe with $47-million, as part of the first funding round of its $5.3-billion Big Housing Build, to construct more than 150 new homes across the state for people in need.
It will build two thirds of its houses in regional Victoria. As well as the 31 in Horsham, it will build 31 in Bendigo, 28 in Ballarat and 17 in Tarneit. The rest are in Werribee, 34, and Preston, 14.
It is one of 22 community housing agencies involved in the statewide social-housing build program.
The Horsham project involves 11 two-bedroom and 20 one-bedroom units, suited to singles, couples and small families either living in Horsham or with close connections to the community through work, family or support networks.
Planning specifications indicate it will create up to 150 jobs.
Haven Home Safe already operates eight rental properties in Horsham, four of them rented by the same tenants since 2012.
Elmstone Property Group director Stuart Benjamin confirmed scoping for an appropriate site for the ‘single, integrated development, inclusive of car parking and recreation facilities’ was well underway.
“We work closely in partnership with Haven Home Safe and have been looking in Horsham for somewhere close to town and close to services,” he said.
“We have yet to identify where it might go and we’d certainly welcome anyone coming forward with a potential site.
“We want to start the project and have people living in the first few houses next year.”
Mr Benjamin said Elmstone was working with housing projects across regional Victoria as part of the government program.
“We have worked really hard to ensure Horsham was on the list to receive its fair share of funding,” he said.
Haven Home Safe revealed there were more than 290 single people regarded as priority-one cases in Horsham who had registered with the Victorian Housing Register for social and affordable housing.
It also provided latest rental data that showed median rent for a two-bedroom property in Horsham was $268 a week, or $526 a fortnight.
A single person on JobSeeker receives $620.80 a fortnight.
Haven Home Safe chair Damien Tangey commended the State Government on its investment, representing the largest social and affordable housing building program in Australia.
“For over 40 years we have worked with government, public and private partners and communities with one purpose in mind – to connect people with housing options and the support they need to find and keep a place to call home,” he said.
Chief executive Andrew Cairns said the Big Housing Build would change many lives for the better, now and into the future.
“It will significantly increase the support of affordable rental housing and support employment and economic growth in many regional towns and cities,” he said.
“Getting a job, studying and actively participating in your community is more achievable with a safe, secure, affordable place to call home.”
Haven Home Safe, providing $14-million as part of its role in the statewide build, owns or manages more than 3000 ‘social and affordable’ properties across Victoria. After construction in Horsham, it will own and manage the property and provide all tenancy-management arrangements.
Mr Benjamin stressed that the 31-house project was ‘completely’ separate to an Elmstone Property Group project in Alexandra Avenue in Horsham, a freehold development involving houses for individual sale.
Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne, in announcing an overall $740-million for 89 projects and 2352 housing units statewide, including $148-million for regional housing, said the project provided hope to thousands of Victorians.
“This is so much more than a construction project – it’s a safe place to call home, training and apprenticeship opportunities and thousands of local jobs,” he said.
In another housing development in Horsham, construction of six new two-bedroom ‘social and affordable’ houses in Searle Street will go ahead as a result of a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT, hearing result.
State Government agency Homes Victoria, which manages Victoria’s social housing system, took the matter to VCAT after a Horsham Rural City Council decision to refuse a planning application.
Homes Victoria anticipates construction of the Searle Street houses will start later this year and be ready for renters to move in before Christmas, 2022.