There’s no place like home

HOUSING in the Latrobe Valley might appear affordable when compared with other areas across Victoria.

However, one conversation with Quantum Support Services paints a different picture.

Last year, the organisation’s stream of housing, homelessness and community support services worked with 1498 families experiencing housing crises in Gippsland.

That was up from the 1283 families Quantum worked with in 2014.

“We say that a house is in housing stress when over 30 per cent of their income goes to rent,” Gippsland Homelessness Network coordinator Lisa Morgan said.

Working under the auspice of Quantum to address homelessness across Gippsland, Ms Morgan said the region’s availability of affordable housing did not meet the demand.

“Even if we were faced with every single person in the community that was homeless coming into get support, there’s not actually the housing stock, either private or public, that could accommodate them,” she said.

The Federal Government has this month announced plans to establish a working party investigating innovative ways to improve the availability of affordable housing.

Having previously provided input into committees that look into policy reform and possible solutions for affordable housing, Quantum will again put its hand up.

“Fundamentally, homelessness is about a lack of connectedness with family, friends, community and a total lack of control over one’s environment,” Quantum coordinator of housing, homelessness and community support Adrian Terranova said.

The organisation has more than 30 programs available to Gippsland residents, with a focus on advocacy and addressing the factors that have led to individuals’ crises.

“It is absolutely imperative, that whilst we start working with the clients, if they’re homeless or at risk, we’re addressing the factors that cause that,” Mr Terranova said.

The government’s working group will focus on the supply, quality and management of social and affordable housing across Australia.

Ms Morgan has a wish-list of three implementations to result from the working party’s collaboration with states, territories, stakeholders and the wider community.

“I would like to see those who can afford to buy properties be given the opportunity to buy them, so that then frees up the rental market for those who don’t have capacity for home ownership,” she said.

“I would like to see a commitment to social housing stock that meets the needs of people we have who need accommodation, because currently what we have doesn’t meet the needs.

“The third one is inclusionary zoning. If there’s a large development of apartment blocks, a certain number of those be allocated to social housing.

“Or, if that can’t happen, that there be a percentage of the revenue made from every development be put into a fund to develop more appropriate social housing.”

A terms of reference and issues paper to be released at the end of the month for the working party.