Despite much tinkering with numerous proposals, Victoria still lacks an affordable housing strategy. Many households, particularly in Melbourne, are living in insecure and/or overpriced accommodations, and their plight is made worse by the undersupply of appropriately priced and situated rental housing.
In contrast, other states and territories have tried to tackle their housing affordability issues with varying degrees of success. South Australia’s strategy has 15% inclusionary zoning as one of the mechanisms used to achieve affordable housing targets. Western Australia has the Affordable Housing Strategy 2010-2020, and Tasmania adopted a 10-year strategy in 2015.
While the Victorian Labor government promised voters access to “safe, affordable, and secure housing” during the 2014 election, three years down the road and the ALP has yet to complete any of the major reforms that would ensure affordable housing.
Among other botched reforms, Plan Melbourne’s “refresh” has yet to be published in its final form, the Residential Tenancies Act has yet to be strengthened, and the residential zone review hasn’t been completed.
Just as worryingly, Victorians are still waiting for the results of an early announcement that the state treasurer was going to work with the planning and housing ministers to develop an integrated affordable housing strategy.
Infrastructure Victoria, a new advisory body to the state government, estimates that an additional 30,000 affordable homes are needed over the next 10 years to accommodate the state’s growing population. However, the advisory body admits this estimate is not well justified due to a lack of good information on affordable housing deficits.
The public housing waiting list now has more than 35,000 names. Moreover, about 120,000 households receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance are still unable to afford living in their current dwellings. This includes 50,000 households in the lowest income bracket. Further exacerbating the dilemma, another one million new households are expected to move into Victoria within the 30-year timeframe of Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy.
The worst outcome of this situation, unfortunately, is a large homeless population and an underclass living in insecure or overpriced accommodations.