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Taskforce established to tackle affordable housing crisis

In what could be a first for Victoria, several key local and State Government agencies have joined forces to tackle the affordable housing crisis in Sunraysia.

Mildura Rural City Councillors last night endorsed a recommendation to establish the Mildura Social and Affordable Housing Taskforce (MSAHT), paving the way for an unprecedented push to increase access to affordable housing in the Sunraysia region.

Last night’s decision follows a motion by Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Community Development Helen Healy last year to declare a housing affordability crisis in Sunraysia, which included as one of its actions the establishment of an affordable housing taskforce.

Cr Healy said the Mildura Social and Affordable Housing Taskforce comprised key agencies including:

  • Mallee Accommodation and Support Program (MASP)
  • Haven; Home, Safe (HHS)
  • Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS)
  • Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV)
  • Mallee Family Care (MFC)
  • Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC)
  • Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH)
  • Homes Victoria (HV)

“While the broader aim of the taskforce is to increase appropriate and affordable housing in our community, it will do so much more than this,” Cr Healy said.

“There needs to be much greater understanding in our community about the challenges and issues surrounding affordable and social housing, and that will be part of the taskforce’s charter.

“Importantly, given the amazing expertise within the taskforce, it will also serve as a powerful vehicle for our region to advocate to State and Federal Governments for better social and affordable housing outcomes in our municipality.

“When I put forward my motion last year declaring a housing affordability crisis in Sunraysia, I said I believed we were failing our community on this basic human right, and I firmly believe this is still the case.

“We still hear stories of pensioners sleeping in their cars, domestic violence victim survivors having to stay with their abusers or spend their savings on motels, families having to leave their communities, all because of a lack of affordable rentals.”

Mallee Accommodation and Support Program Chief Executive Officer Vincent Wilson said the collaborative approach being taken would boost the opportunities for innovation and the efficient use of resources.

“Harnessing the knowledge and expertise of our organisations can only lead to better outcomes for our community,” Mr Wilson said.

“The taskforce will undertake relevant research, identify sites suitable for social and affordable housing and then facilitate targeted responses to help the people who need it most.

“We’re operating under a shared belief that safe, affordable and appropriate housing is a basic human right that all community members should have access to.”

Key objectives and roles of the taskforce include:

  • Develop clear targets and strategies to improve affordable housing outcomes
  • Identify and support development of social and affordable housing opportunities
    across the municipality
  • Further document the Mildura housing market, including identifying localised
    benchmarks for affordability
  • Make recommendations to members to promote understanding and awareness of
    matters and issues relating to social and affordable
  • Advocate on behalf of the region to State and Federal Governments, including
    policy-makers and relevant funding bodies, on matters and issues relating to social
    and affordable housing

Following this week’s endorsement by Councillors, the taskforce is expected become operational by May this year.

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