“The far south coast has a housing crisis which demands urgent and innovative solutions,” according to the Greens candidate in the Bega by-election, Peter Haggar.
“Too many individuals and families are homeless and have little or no chance to rent, let alone buy a house,” he said.
“Covid and the huge recent rise in property prices and investment buying have made this crisis worse.”
“I want to see better use of record high numbers of under-utilised investment properties, especially in coastal areas of our region. Many of these could be utilised for short and long term leases.
“The Victorian state government has introduced a vacant residential land tax which applies to houses that are vacant for more than 6 months. This tax was introduced to help address the lack of housing supply in Victoria.
Mr Haggar said that the Greens support an annual charge of this kind on owners who leave housing unoccupied for long periods, with the revenue spent on increasing affordable housing availability.
“We also need more help for vulnerable people who are homeless or have little or no security in housing.
He said: “I understand that many regional housing support services are providing support to 25% more clients than they did in the previous year.
“The South East Youth Accommodation Service (SEYAS), which provides support to the 15-24 year age group had already exceeded its funding target by December 2021 only 6 months into the funding year.
“For 14 months it had no young person successfully gain a private rental in the Bega Valley.
“Services such as youth refuges must be better resourced and more services made available,” Mr Haggar said.
“The Bega Valley, for example, has no youth refuge; the closest one is in Moruya and there are no available supported youth accommodation options”.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recently confirmed that without significant investment in social housing by State and Federal governments the unsustainable demand on support services will continue.
Homelessness NSW, the peak organisation for the State, has called on the NSW government to invest in at least 5,000 new social houses every year for the next 10 years just to meet current demand.