Per Capita Submission to the Ten-Year Social and Affordable Housing Strategy for Victoria

Introduction

After foregrounding the urgent need for largescale construction of social housing in our submission and testimony to the Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria, Per Capita was excited and gratified to see the Victorian government announce the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build in 2020. As our advocacy has made clear, we believe that an investment in social housing construction of that scale or more is not only desperately needed to begin to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis in this state, but also represents one of the most effective and efficient forms of economic stimulus that we could employ as we recover and rebuild from COVID-19.

Per Capita also welcomes the introduction of the 10-Year Strategy for Social and Affordable Housing (the 10-Year Strategy) in Victoria, and the consultative approach the Victorian government is taking to develop it. We appreciate the opportunity to make a submission in support of this consultation.

To clarify the scope of our submission slightly: while Per Capita accepts the need for, and supports the development of, more affordable housing in Victoria, our policy and advocacy focus is social housing. We will therefore mainly be discussing social housing throughout this submission. We have drawn out the questions and topics from the discussion paper that align most closely with our research work and will not address every question that the paper raised.

This submission will first raise some issues with some of the definitions and premises on which the discussion paper rests, which, if retained, will set the 10-Year Strategy up for problems. We will then move into the Pathways section of the paper where we will answer the question about access to and sustainment of social housing tenancies by making a series of recommendations regarding tenancy support and eviction prevention.

In the Communities section, we will respond to the prompt for input on “design[ing] social housing for the future” by expanding on our advocacy to date for universal design standards and recommending that any and all new social housing units are built with the age and mobility of social housing tenants in mind. Under Growth, we will revisit our advocacy around public housing specifically and urge the government to ensure that growth in public housing is not abandoned.

Finally, under Partnerships, we outline the principles of co-design and offer examples of where we have used co-design in our housing work. This section also responds to the Engagement and People At The Centre prompts in the discussion paper.

 

Recommendations

1: Re-conceptualise the presentation of housing tenures in the 10-Year Strategy to move away from the idea of a ‘housing continuum’ and towards a set of housing choices that are available and accessible based on circumstances and needs.

2: Ensure that enough social housing units are built over the next ten years to meet the national average by the end of the 10-Year Strategy.

3: Implement Recommendations 25, 26, 27, 32, 33, and 34 from the final report of the Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria.

4: Consider the introduction of a pre-action checklist for social landlords to complete before they can begin an eviction action.

5: Increase funding and expand access to Tenancy Plus and other similar programs in order to resource the social housing sector to support tenancy sustainment.

6: Ensure that all new social housing stock conforms to universal design principles and is age- and disability-friendly in terms of its location and built form.

7: Commit to growing publicly funded and managed housing stock at least at the same rate as community housing industry managed stock.

8: Ensure the 10-Year Strategy includes an overarching, long-term plan for public housing which set targets for growth, sustainability, and meeting demand, and includes an asset strategy, a strategy for improving property and tenant data, and a clear strategy for improving the financial sustainability of the public housing model over the long term.

9: Investigate the potential for the use of a largescale cohousing model to serve older women in social housing.

10: Include co-design in the 10-Year Strategy as a participatory process by which the government will identify innovative models for social housing, particularly for households not well catered for by current social housing stock.

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