Vic Govt launches first online social housing register

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The Victorian Government has launched a new public housing waiting list in an effort to help to tackle the state’s housing crisis.

All of the information collected by the Government and the state’s 42 community housing organisations will be brought together on the one register.

People will only need to fill out a single online application form and the information will be shared between the organisations.

Housing Minister Martin Foley said many housing providers and associations had their own application processes and waiting lists.

“They didn’t talk to one another and it was complex and it was difficult for people to navigate their way through the system,” he said.

“Now what we have is an integrated system.”

Mr Foley said the register had been discussed for many years and followed extensive consultation with the sector.

He hoped the list would help to address the state’s housing crisis by streamlining the administrative side of the process.

“A better, clearer, real-time message as to who is seeking housing assistance where,” he said.

“From that the real next challenge is how do we provide as a community, how to we provide as governments of all levels, support for more houses.”

Couch surfing an ‘uncertain’ existence

Dillon, 20, is among the more than 32,000 Victorians on the public housing waiting list.

He became homeless last year and has been living in what is known as transitional housing at Collingwood for about nine months.

“[I] got kicked out of home and was couch surfing with my grandparents,” he said.

“You’re very uncertain of the future, you don’t know what’s going to happen next and yeah, it was a hard year for me last year.”

He entered his details onto the new online housing register.

“I’m feeling good about it, it’s very very simplified,” he said.

But Dillon could have to wait years before getting the keys to his own public housing property.

Hundreds seeking help each week

The Melbourne City Mission is struggling to keep up with demand from the city’s homeless.

The organisation’s spokesperson, Sherri Bruinhout, said it is approached by up to 200 people a week seeking somewhere to stay for the night but there is no crisis accommodation available for most of them.

“Every week there’s between four to six vacancies for crisis accommodation. We’re really struggling,” she said.

The new public housing list was an important step forward, she said, but an affordable housing strategy was needed.

“Public housing is for people who are on low incomes and struggling to compete in the market, right through to people who have been recurrently homeless for periods of years, sometimes decades,” she said.

“The ability to bring all those people together in one list and be able to make sense of that list and allocate to those people who are most in need is a really important function.”

The State Government has promised further announcements on housing policy in the coming week.

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