Aussie Feds Drop Social Housing Ball. Has Victoria, AU Picked It Up?

Two tall public housing tower blocks, built in grey concrete, stand on an inner-urban street which is lined with gum trees. Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

If noise in the press is any indication of public concern, then Australia’s press over the last six months has resonated with cries from all quarters for the construction of  new social housing. Proposed by activists, academics and concerned groups of all stripes and colours, a large social housing program has been billed as a twofer. First, it will help address a growing homelessness crisis by reducing the huge waiting lists for the nation’s depleted truly affordable housing stocks. Second, it will provide a giant boost to the nation’s construction industries, its fortunes much depleted by COVID-19.

The Australian Federal Government turned up its nose at the advice.1

But much to everyone’s surprise and delight, the State of Victoria has risen to the challenge. Victoria received bad press during COVID-19 for its aggressive lockdown treatment of social housing residents in the city of Melbourne.2

Has it redeemed its clumsy response to existing social housing residents with a commitment to building a truly significant quantity of new social housing? Read more in THE NEW DAILY: Pressure piles on federal government after Victoria’s record social housing drive

Not all reception of Victoria’s commitment has been unrestrained joy. A close reading of the announcement explains why. The state makes a distinction between “social” housing and “public” housing, which is important to parsing the details.

The overall message is that Victoria’s new social housing plans continue to over-emphasize public private partnerships and other housing strategies in which “affordability” remains a vague and drifting term — all to the detriment of the low- and no- income citizens whose needs should be a first priority.

Read more in THE AGE: Budget’s Big Social Housing Plan Lacks Public Housing Pillar

Footnotes

  1. Try:  Social housing left high and dry in 2020 Budget
  2. Try: Melbourne’s tower lockdowns reveal the precarious future of Victorian public housing

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