Ballarat welfare agencies say they are surprised and disappointed investment for social housing is not included in the federal government's construction recovery scheme.
The HomeBuilder Scheme announced on Thursday offers $25,000 grants for residents to build homes less than $750,000 or upgrade their homes in renovations more than $150,000.
Applicants must have a single income of up to $120,000 or a combined income of up to $200,000.
Ballarat Foundation chief executive Andrew Eales said he was 'surprised' social housing incentives were not built into the construction led recovery.
"I hope the government is still considering social housing as a means to not only support the construction industry but to help alleviate the great deal of stress we are already seeing around homelessness and we are likely to see more of as the economic impact continues to hit the community," he said.
We think the funding could have been directed towards social housing...instead of helping people who can already afford to buy a new house or spend hundreds of thousands to renovate an existing house.Annette Kelly-Egerton, Uniting
Mr Eales said rental availability in Ballarat was low prior to COVID-19 and he expected to see further pressure on people in rental properties who may be unable to pay.
"While there have been steps put in place to ensure renters are not thrown out in the short term, the fear is a lot of rental agreements will only involve deferred payments and won't necessarily ease the stress in the long term," he said.
"I am concerned there is going to be greater need for public or social housing, particularly from September on when some of the stimulus packages will disappear."
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Centacare chief executive Tony Fitzgerald said the federal government missed an opportunity to address two problems with one scheme.
"It is disappointing. They would have been better allocating some of that funding directly to social housing," he said.
"The state government recently announced funding investment into social housing which is welcome, but we are still suffering from a chronic shortage of stock and that hasn't lessened in any way, the demand is still there."
Uniting North West Victoria general manager Annette Kelly-Egerton said homelessness numbers had doubled in Ballarat over the past few months and she feared it would worsen.
"There's still enormous uncertainty out there and we think the funding could have been directed towards social housing, whether that be purchasing land or building new housing, instead of helping people who can already afford to buy a new house or spend hundreds of thousands to renovate an existing house," she said.
"Right here in Ballarat, there will be people right across our region who tonight will be sleeping rough or couch surfing at friends houses - it's on our doorstep and all around us.
"We can't afford to continue to leave the most vulnerable people in our community in the cold."
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