Lovell whacks Labor on social housing

By James Bennett

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell says Shepparton's social housing waiting list has risen by just under 700 families.

In a scathing attack on Labor, Ms Lovell said according to new data released by the Victorian Government the list had more than doubled since 2014.

The former housing minister said in the 2019 September quarter 34 families joined the now 1293-long queue and about 630 were listed as priority applicants.

She said it was an increase of 39 priority applicants in the September 2019 quarter and a total increase of 693 families since September 2014.

“Even more concerning are the 23 373 vulnerable families on the statewide priority housing waiting list, which grew by 650 families in the September quarter and by 13 383 (134 per cent) families over the term of this government,” Ms Lovell said.

“Labor likes to boast about its election commitment to acquire 1000 additional social housing properties across the state but the reality is that in regional Victoria only Geelong and Ballarat are included in this policy, leaving Shepparton families with little hope of gaining access to a home.

“It’s time Labor took responsibility for its ongoing failure to help families, it’s time Labor realised it has been making life harder for Victorians, and it’s time the (Planning and Housing) Minister (Richard Wynne) got on with the job of providing homes for the growing number of vulnerable Victorians who need them.”

Two contributing factors to the increase are the “Special Housing needs aged 55 years and over” and Victorian Housing Register.

The News understands both increase the waiting list figures.

The government has in the past provided funding for vulnerable Shepparton residents including $5.5 million for the Wintringham independent living units.

It also has funded programs through Beyond Housing and the Education First Youth Foyer.

“We’re giving people in Shepparton access to safe and secure housing, with a range of initiatives to address need across the state’s fast-growing population,” a government spokesperson said.

“In Shepparton between July 2018 to October 2019, we acquired 10 properties and upgraded 76 as part of the government’s ongoing maintenance program.

“The government provides over $8 million in homelessness support and accommodation to the Goulburn area, which includes funding for education first youth foyers, outreach services, family violence and Aboriginal housing support services.”