Victoria has launched an ambitious housing agenda, with the state planning to deliver 800,000 new homes over the next decade.
On Wednesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled a new housing statement which will guide the state’s housing policy over the decade to 2034.
The statement sets an ambition of building 800,000 homes over that decade – or 80,000 homes per year.
This is higher compared with the 605,052 dwellings that were completed across the state throughout the ten years to December 2022 – an average of around 60,500 dwellings per year.
The statement commits the government to 30 actions across five areas.
- Investment in social housing. This includes a project to redevelop all of Melbourne’s 44 aging high-rise public housing estates between now and 2051. It also includes construction of 769 new social housing homes under the Social Housing Accelerator and investment of $1 billion in a program to provide low interest loans and government guarantees to finance social and affordable housing projects.
- Speeding up planning approvals for new homes. Among other measures, this includes by creating a dedicated team to clear a backlog of 1,400 planning applications that have been stuck with Councils for more than six months, introducing clear planning controls to deliver 60,000 new homes in 10 activity centres across Melbourne and streamlining assessment pathways through new Deemed to Comply residential standards for different types of homes.
- Delivering cheaper housing closer to where people work by unlocking new spaces to build infill precincts; unlocking surplus government land; and strengthening design standards to ensure quality builds.
- Reforming tenancy laws to provide better renter protection. This includes restricting rent increases between successive fixed term rental agreements; banning all types of rental biding; establishing a new body to resolve rental disputes; introducing a portable rental bond scheme to enable tenants to carry their bond between properties; and extending notice periods for rent increases and demands to vacate to 90 days.
- Creating a new plan for Victoria to 2050 to outline how the state will change over the next 30 years and reforming the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to build a planning system that is contemporary and fit for purpose.
To help fund ongoing social housing investment, a 7.5 percent levy will be applied to short-stay accommodation platforms such as Airbnb and Stays.
To help deliver on the package, meanwhile, the government will create an Affordability Partnership with industry groups such as the Property Council of Australia, Master Builders Association of Victoria, Urban Development Institute of Australia, Housing Industry Association and Super Housing Partnerships.
The plan comes as Victoria is in the grip of a crisis in housing affordability.
Across the state, only 13 percent of homes which are currently on the market are affordable to households earning the average household income of $105,000.
For households with an annual income of $64,000, only three percent of dwellings which are currently on the market are affordable.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the importance of the plan should not be underestimated.
“The status quo is not an option, and admiring the problem will only make it worse,” Andrews said.
“Unless we take bold and decisive action now, Victorians will be paying the price for generations to come.
“Whether you’re buying your first place, upsizing or downsizing as life changes, or renting – the work we’re doing will mean there’ll be a place you can afford, and that you can call home.”
Master Builders Association of Victoria CEO Michaela Lihou welcomed the government’s plans but stressed that they needed to be accompanied by a stocktake of government policy and regulation to ensure the housing blueprint becomes a reality.
“Master Builders Victoria is committed to working collaboratively with the Victorian Government to achieve these ambitious housing targets,” Lihou said.
“By addressing industry challenges, fostering innovation, and implementing legislative and regulatory changes, we can collectively create a sustainable and thriving housing sector for Victoria.”
However, Council for Homeless Persons said the announcement was a ‘missed opportunity’ which failed to address serious social housing deficits.
Council to Homeless Persons chief executive officer Deborah Di Natale welcomed the measures to refurbish high-rise public housing, better protect renters and tax short-stay accommodation.
But she said the measures regarding social housing fall well short of what is needed.
“The State Government appears to have missed a critical opportunity to tackle the most serious housing crisis in living memory,” Di Natale said.
“Behind the big headline numbers, there’s crumbs for social housing.
“We need at least 60,000 new public and community homes to be built in Victoria over a decade. Unfortunately there’s nothing like that in these announcements.
“The grim reality is without a major increase in social housing, which accounts for just 2.9 per cent of all dwellings across the state, we’re not going to stop rising homelessness.”
“The human and economic consequences of not addressing the crisis we face are immense.
“We have tens of thousands of people experiencing homelessness each night and on social housing waiting lists. The government needs to be up front with what this housing statement means for them.”
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