Tens of thousands of Victorian renters in housing stress: families with kids over-represented

Tens of thousands of Victorian renters in housing stress: families with kids over-represented

Mother Sam and father Sunloch live in shared accommodation with daughter Amber, seven. Image: Jason Edwards.

Nearly 110,000 Melbourne households suffer from rental housing stress.

And in the Victoria region, 35,900 households are homeless, live in “overcrowded” properties such as apartment buildings or spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to a new report from the Community Housing Industry Association.

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CHIA Victoria acting boss Jess Pomeroy said with 109,900 Melbourne properties – 6 per cent of the city’s homes – now under stress, the government’s $5.3 billion housing project would fall drastically behind the 60,000 new ones public housing needed in the state over the next decade.

The ‘Quantifying Australia’s Unmet Housing Need’ study found that Melbourne’s hardest-hit area was the west, from Footscray to Melton, where 20,000 households (6.9 per cent of the region’s households) are under stress.

The North West from Glenroy to Sunbury had 9,900 households (6.7 percent) in housing stress and the South East had 19,200 households (6.6 percent).

Geelong had 7,500 stressed households (5.9 percent).

A homeless man in his camp on the Mornington Peninsula. The study found that 7,900 households on the peninsula suffered from housing stress, including homelessness. Image: David Crosling.

A homeless man’s tent in Rosebud. Image: David Crosling.

Most of Melbourne had an “over-representation of families with children” experiencing housing stress, including 6,237 households in the North West.

Ms Pomeroy said the state government’s pledge to build 9,300 new public housing units as part of the Big Housing Build was “a great start but there needs to be a lot more to come”.

She called for $6 billion to be spent on 20,000 new Victorian council housing over the next 10 years as house prices and rents soar.

“We urgently need governments to provide a clear, long-term funding pipeline for social and affordable housing beyond large-scale housing construction,” Ms Pomeroy said.

“We’re going to see a lot of people having to make difficult choices between rent, heating and food.”

Part of the 2026 Commonwealth Games villages in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Shepparton and Gippsland will be repurposed as social and affordable housing once the sporting event is over. Image: Included.

Melbourne weekly home rent hit a record high of $559 in June, according to SQM Research. Image: Jeremy Piper.

She added that the government should use the 2026 Commonwealth Games athletes’ villages in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Shepparton and Gippsland for long-term social and affordable housing.

Across the Victoria region, a total of 5.7 percent of households suffer from housing stress.

Tenant Victoria boss Jennifer Beveridge said her organization “strongly supports the call to build more social and affordable housing”.

“We also recognize that we need to prioritize solutions to the current problems in the private rental market, where most people rent their homes,” she said.

Housing stress is now a problem for 640,000 households across the country, with the number expected to reach 940,000 by 2041.

Sleep tight in Melbourne’s CBD. Tony Gough.

Inner Melbourne recorded 16,700 households experiencing housing stress, including the homeless. Image: Tony Gough.

A State Government spokesman said: “We know there is a demand for social and affordable housing across Victoria.

“That’s why we’re investing more than ever in social and affordable housing with the historic $5.3 billion Big Housing Build, which will create more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes.”

The spokesman said part of the Commonwealth Games villages would be converted into affordable council housing.

More than 7400 homes have been completed or are under construction as part of the Big Housing Build.

Tenant Victoria Managing Director Jennifer Beveridge.

Mum Sam, dad Sunloch and daughter Amber love their home in south-east Melbourne. In addition to being a support worker, Sammi is also an artist who fills orders. She has more than 400 followers on Instagram at @sammi_spectrum_art. Image: Jason Edwards

Council tenant Sam said she wakes up every day feeling “super grateful” for her property.

The social worker lives in south-east Melbourne with her partner Sunloch, who is on a permanent disability pension, and their seven-year-old daughter Amber.

Her partner had been on the public housing waiting list for years when they started dating 12 years ago.

A homeless person’s facility in Melbourne. Image: Tony Gough

They moved back and forth between private rentals about five times when successive landlords decided to sell or move in their own families.

Possums and rats lived in the walls of a rented house.

Sam’s family ended up living in just two rooms because the roof and walls were leaking heavily and contained animal feces.

“It even dripped onto our daughter’s crib, luckily not while she was in it,” Sam said.

An estimated 543,254 people rent a home in Melbourne. Image: Nicki Connolly.

They moved into their current home just ahead of Victoria’s first Covid lockdown after it became available through the non-profit Housing Choices.

“Every day I wake up super grateful for this place because I know a lot of families are struggling right now, even if they can afford to rent, they can’t find a place,” Sam said.

The CHIA said some tenants are having to choose between paying rent and paying for food or heating, and this would increase as rents rise in the future and more people need public housing.

Sam and her partner have won multiple awards in Housing Choices’ Home is Where the Art is competition for their artistic creations over the past three years.

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