Housing Crisis in Victoria
I sent a letter to one of the local papers today in response to an article they ran about affordable housing.
To the Editor
When we bought our house in Ardeer in 1998 it was because it was affordable and we could not even contemplate buying where we had been renting in Spotswood. House prices and rents are now so high they have pushed many working people out of the market altogether and more and more families are being forced in to sub standard accommodation on the fringes of Melbourne with poor facilities.
Brimbank has been facing a severe shortage of affordable accommodation for some time now and Victoria’s housing affordability is in crisis - a crisis that the private housing market cannot fix.
In fact we need to understand that it is the private market which is the cause of the problem. Developers build houses for profit, not to meet the housing needs of all Victorians. When times are good for the housing industry and they are building houses hand over fist, the supply increases and the problem is not so acute for most of us, but when the market dries up the few who dropped off the edge before become a large number indeed as more people cannot afford to buy or to rent. And because of a rapidly increasing population in Victoria and years of inadequate state and federal funding for public housing the problem has been exacerbated.
Housing is a basic human right. It is the right of every person to have access to affordable, appropriate, safe, secure, healthy, environmentally responsible housing, and yet in Brimbank we have a situation where residents are forced to living in illegal rooming houses often with sub standard kitchen and bathroom facilities and paying extortionate amounts for the privilege.
While Labor has invested some stimulus money in public and community housing, it has a very long way to go to undo the years of selling off, neglect and underfunding – and of course the stimulus money was to keep industry going so now the GFC is over the spending is at an end. Labor has no plan.
Melbourne needs high density living if the population is going to keep increasing and we need much more public housing, but there is currently no plan to make it liveable.
We must have a Government-led plan to provide more public housing and at the same time:
- Efficient, high frequency public transport
- More high quality open spaces next door to housing (multi-use – parks, places for kids to hang out, community gardens)
- High quality sustainable design
- Govt-funded services for families (community health centres, schools, childcare centres etc)
If we are serious about addressing this issue we need to look at providing housing differently. We need to increase the public ownership of housing and we need to make it work really well.