Jesuit Social Services contributed to the consultation conducted by Homes Victoria on its proposed 10-Year Social and Affordable Housing Strategy for Victoria.

Our written submission provides feedback on the Strategy and specifically addresses questions posed in the Discussion Paper.

The submission commends the Strategy’s positive vision for every Victorian to have access to a safe, affordable and appropriate home; and principles on which the vision is based. We also commend the bold initiatives already announced and variously implemented by the Victorian Government in working towards the Strategy – namely the range of emergency and transitional measures introduced in 2020 to address and prevent homelessness in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build.

Nevertheless, to ensure a just housing system, our submission advocates for the Strategy to be strengthened, as follows:

  • With a view to enabling people to access social housing, sustain their tenancies, and move between different housing options as their needs change:
    • ground the Strategy in a human rights framework – to this end, we call for the right to housing to be included in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
    • ensure fair and transparent planning and decision-making processes – to this end, we suggest enhancing the Strategy by adding a principle that embeds fairness and transparency in the planning for and implementation of Victoria’s social housing system, and
    • ensure fair and transparent individual application and decision-making processes.
  • With a view to facilitating consideration of the most important features of affordable housing:
    • tighten the terminology to ensure clear, understandable and agreed definitions – in particular, clarify and broaden the concept of affordable to incorporate affordable price, security of tenure, easy access to regular and reliable public transport and amenities, access to relevant employment opportunities, energy efficiency and ecological sustainability, safety of location, and flexibility of accommodation.
  • With a view to supporting people to find and obtain an affordable home:
    • increase public housing stock, and
    • focus on young people as a priority cohort.
  • With a view to ensuring housing supply meets the needs of people with specific support and housing needs:
    • increase targeted, specialised and holistic housing and support packages for people whose multiple and complex needs are not met through the private rental market or community housing systems.