Housing feedback concerns

GIPPSLAND is inadequately represented in a public consultation process on the future direction of public housing, according to a tenancy advocate.

The State Government has begun the three-month process on Victoria’s public housing framework, following the Auditor General’s report last month which described Victoria’s public housing system as “unsustainable”.

On the release of Pathways to a Fair and Sustainable Social Housing System and Social Housing – Options to Improve the Supply of Quality Housing discussion papers last week, Housing Minister Wendy Lovell said public housing reforms were a “step closer”.

“We know from several recent reports into social housing in Victoria that the system can’t go on in its current form,” Ms Lovell said.

“Doing nothing, maintaining the status quo, is not an option if the community expects social housing to be provided into the future.”

However, Victorian Public Tenants Association chairperson Margaret Guthrie said Gippsland was not represented by a housing organisation.

“The discussion papers certainly cover a range of issues that the government are obviously considering, we are happy that they are out for consultation,” Ms Guthrie said.

“But in Melbourne you have a number of organisations and tenant groups, there are no tenant groups in Gippsland and no representatives.

“I’d like to know they how are they going to organise consultation in a region like Gippsland where there is no organised mechanism?”

Supporting the public consultation, Ms Guthrie said the VPTA would make written submissions highlighting “grave concerns” about the future of public housing.

She said the Latrobe Valley was reliant on individual tenant submissions, however believed the long-winded and “complicated” online forms could detract people from providing public housing feedback in the region.

Ms Guthrie said during the consultation period VPTA would fight for affordable housing, security of tenure and reasonable review process.

“You need affordable housing, so there needs to be rent capping and security of tenure is vital,” Ms Guthrie said.

“We have grave concerns over the standardised review idea that might be put in place with the aim of assisting people to exit public housing because the likely result is to put people back in to financial stress.

“The aim of public housing is to give people the opportunity to get over their initial crisis and then have a stable future; we are concerned this will change.”

Last week a meeting with stakeholders was held in Melbourne and Ms Guthrie said the management of housing was discussed.

“The VPTA is concerned about the possible transfer of housing management,” she said.

“This is a way for the government to wipe their hands of the financial challenges they face in maintaining public housing, which is likely to place enormous strain on the not-for-profit community housing sector.”

The papers are available at Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.vic.gov.au

Public consultation is open until 5pm on 31 July.