By Marnie Banger
Australian Associated Press
5 JUNE, 2018
Disadvantaged Victorians living in public housing are not guaranteed to benefit from a state government plan to upgrade estates by selling them to developers, a parliamentary committee has found.
Under the plan, developers will replace the estates with a mix of public and private housing and increase by 10 per cent the number of public housing units at each site.
But there is no "compelling evidence" the scheme is the best approach to improving public housing, Victoria's legal and social issues committee said in a report released on Tuesday.
Nor is there any "clear evidence" on the benefits of mixing public and private housing on the sites.
"Any sale of public housing land - particularly in prime locations in inner suburban Melbourne - should be properly justified and provide a large benefit to public housing tenants and the state," the report said.
"It is not clear that this is the case."
The committee, whose report follows an inquiry involving 172 submissions and three public hearings, said it also has some concerns about whether the scheme will reduce Victoria's overall public housing capacity.
That's because while the total number of units will increase, a higher proportion of them will have one or two bedrooms instead of three, which may lead to an overall drop in bedrooms.
The government has said the program is just one of its social housing initiatives, the committee noted.
The plan comes as the number of Victorians awaiting public housing continues to grow, with an additional 1500 people seeking accommodation in the three months to March, bringing the total to about 82,500.
Opposition housing spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said that rise is no surprise given the cost of living pressures in Victoria, such as rising taxes and power prices.
"The government needs to be managing the (housing) stock but they also need to be managing the burden for families," she told reporters.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said the committee's report suggests the plan's modelling is "flawed" and not the way to deal with the State's housing "crisis point".
But Housing Minister Martin Foley said it highlights the urgent need for more social housing and asked both the Liberals and Greens to get behind its plan.
The government will respond to the report's 28 recommendations in due course, he said.
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