A LACK of social housing options throughout Ballarat, even for people seen as the highest priority is causing a large spike in waiting list numbers, according to a leading welfare agency.
Uniting Ballarat says new figures, which show priority one waiting lists have climbed in the Central Highlands region from 576 in December 2017 to 842 in December 2018, come as no surprise as more and more residents do it tough.
Coordinator of Street 2 Home program for Uniting in Ballarat Adam Liversage said the agency was struggling to keep up with demand.
"Our clients report longer waiting periods for social housing which is compounded by a lack of social housing or ‘lower end’ affordable private rentals," Mr Liversage said.
"Even for people with high priority, we have found that people may still wait several years.
"The amount of people on the priority list for housing and supports are increasing, and we can barely keep up with the demand."
Mr Liversage said the lack of one bedroom properties was the biggest issue in the region.
"There seems to be a lot of promises to build extra social housing properties and we would certainly welcome any funding or plans for the region," he said.
"There are many reasons for this increase. Lack of affordable housing, very competitive rental market, and a less than one per cent vacancy rate. There is also a lack of support programs and resources to assist these people.
"The TICA Register (tenancy blacklists) prevents tenants from accessing other rentals If they have had a poor tenancy in the past."
Opposition housing spokesman Tim Smith said there were now more than 20,000 Victorians on the waiting list.
Mr Smith said a Productivity Commission report recently found that Victorian State Government spending on social housing has fallen each and every year of the Andrews Labor Government.
“Spending is now more than $40 million per year less than the final year of the former Liberal Nationals Government,” Mr Smith said.
“Furthermore, in 2017-18, Victoria spent less than half on social housing as New South Wales, and less than Queensland and Western Australia, despite both of those states having smaller populations.
“Indeed, Victoria spends the least of any government on social housing per person in population.”
But the State Government hit back at the opposition, claiming the last Liberal Government stripped $330 million from housing.
“We won’t take lectures on public housing from the Liberals,” Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said.
“We’re spending $209 million to build 1000 public housing properties over the next three years, located in Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.
“This builds on 1,800 new social housing properties already delivered across the State.
“We’re (also) investing $10 million to upgrade the Delacombe housing estate in Ballarat.”
Mr Liversage said he would like to increased and ongoing investment in homelessness program, including Street 2 which engages rough sleepers.
"(We also want a) review existing support services to help tenants avoid eviction into homelessness, to address the root causes of homelessness, including family violence, mental illness and substance use problems, previous incarceration and low government payments to the unemployed and a mandated requirement that five per cent of properties in developments larger than 30 units are designated as social housing," he said.
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