City of Melbourne moves on affordable housing provision

City of Melbourne moves on affordable housing provision
Cory Memery

An Affordable Housing Strategy 2030 was adopted at the end of last year and out of this, the City of Melbourne (CoM) has decided to directly engage in affordable housing provision.

Greens councillors Rohan Leppert and Olivia Ball worked with Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece to include the establishment of Homes Melbourne in the council’s four-year plan to coordinate and facilitate more affordable housing for key workers and people on low incomes starting with …

  • A demonstration project on council-owned land;
  • Supporting the Make Room accommodation project and new homeless support hubs for vulnerable citizens to access essential support services including food, showers, lockers, and information; and
  • Provision of advice on other homelessness support services.

Homes Melbourne’s inaugural CEO will be the City of Yarra CEO Vijaya “VJ” Vaidyanath. VJ has has led Yarra’s administration since 2012 and before that was CEO of local councils in New Zealand. She worked for the Reserve Bank of India before moving to New Zealand and shifting from banking to local government.

Inclusionary zoning

The City of Melbourne’s advocacy to the state government for more public housing and inclusionary zoning (IZ) will continue and public housing supporters have campaigned for it to be in the state government’s 10-year housing strategy that is expected to be released before the end of this year.

The Labor for Housing group made up of Labor MPs and party members is actively campaigning for mandatory inclusionary zoning. See here.

Mandatory IZ is when new developments of a certain size – determined through legislation – have to set aside land and make financial contributions to build affordable housing.

IZ is not new in Victoria. The current planning rules have a provision for voluntary agreements to be reached between developers and local councils. However, there hasn’t been a rush of developers to volunteer, so a mandatory provision is necessary if we are to make some headway on more affordable housing through Victoria.

Priority, though, needs to be given to public housing in mandatory IZ. More public housing is needed in the City of Melbourne, starting with constructing it to reduce overcrowding in existing high-rise buildings.

Work and skills development opportunities for public housing residents

There is a lot of talk about the shortages of construction and other skilled and essential workers in Melbourne. Many have escaped extended lockdowns and have gone to Queensland.

A new program should start up that offers training to public housing residents in inner Melbourne to take up these jobs rather than wait for workers to return.

The vast majority won’t return, so why not offer the opportunity to those who want it and remain living in Melbourne?

There are residents who can start up their own businesses and thrive as well with some support from the CoM and the state government.

Big Housing build

The state government continues to make announcements under this program.

A recent one is the construction of four new community housing towers (eight floors each) on carparks in the Collingwood public housing estate in the City of Yarra.

Public housing tenants will not be able to park onsite during a two-year construction period starting next year.

Why doesn’t the government rapidly introduce mandatory IZ and spread new housing throughout our greater metro Melbourne?

Seems public housing tenants have no rights or say in a matter like this.

A similar development in private housing suburbs would receive considerable opposition •

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