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Benalla Social housing waiting lists up 62%

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla and Wangaratta’s social housing waiting list has risen by 62 per cent in the past five years.

Since September 2014 the amount of families in the area on the waiting list has risen from 458 to 742.

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said new data released by the government revealed the waiting list for social housing in Benalla and Wangaratta continued to increase with another 17 families joining the queue in the September 2019 quarter.

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Ms Lovell said an even greater concern was the large increase in priority applicants.

There are now 379 families on the waiting list for priority housing in Benalla and Wangaratta, an increase of 31, 8.91 per cent, in the September 2019 quarter and a massive increase of 257 families, 211 per cent since September 2014.

Priority applicants are the most vulnerable Victorians who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, escaping family violence or have a disability or special housing needs.

Ms Lovell said the reason for this increase was because of "Labor’s incompetence".

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The statewide social housing waiting list has blown out by 9534 families since September 2014 leaving 44 152 vulnerable Victorian families without access to social housing.

“Even more concerning are the 23 373 vulnerable families on the statewide priority housing waiting list, which grew by 650 families in the September quarter and by 13 383, 134 per cent, families over the term of this government,” Ms Lovell said.

“Labor likes to boast about its election commitment to acquire 1000 additional social housing properties across the state, but the reality is that in regional Victoria only Geelong and Ballarat are included in this policy, leaving Benalla and Wangaratta families with little hope of gaining access to a home.

“It’s time Labor took responsibility for its ongoing failure to help families, it’s time Labor realised it has been making life harder for Victorians, and it’s time the minister got on with the job of providing homes for the growing number of vulnerable Victorians who need them.

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A Department of Health and Social Security spokesperson said community housing and public housing waiting lists were being combined into the Victorian Housing Register, which began in November 2018.

This has contributed to an overall increase in figures, but offers a more accurate and transparent picture of the data than previously available.

“There is high demand for affordable housing options across the state and we are working hard to house as many families as possible through social housing as well as working with the community and private sector to deliver more affordable housing,” the spokesperson said.

"The Victorian Government has substantially increased funding for public, community and supported housing options, as well as targeted homelessness services.

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“This includes delivering up to 500 new affordable rental properties this financial year through the $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund.

“We’re also revitalising the Benalla West estate with a $10 million investment designed to improve utilisation of public land, and a net increase in public housing.

“In Benalla and Wangaratta between July 2018 to October 2019, we upgraded 40 properties as part of the government’s ongoing maintenance program.”