The state government on Thursday announced $10 million to upgrade the Virginia Hill public housing estate, but it remains unclear whether more units will be created through the changes.
Minister for Housing Martin Foley said the cash would improve public spaces on the estate and provide better connections to the surrounding neighbourhood.
“The upgrade will replace these ageing residences with modern, environmentally-friendly housing better suited to local demand for affordable housing,” he said.
Industry advocates have pushed for a greater public housing stock in the region as waiting lists gradually increase.
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There are currently 1394 applications on the Victorian housing register waiting list for the Loddon Region, which does not list the number of people per application.
Of those applications, more than a half – 746 – are listed as ‘priority access’.
The statistics represent a 15 per cent increase in 12 months, and Haven; Home, Safe chief executive officer Ken Marchingo recently said the problem of inadequate housing stock was not going away. “We’ve seen some (government) talking, now we’re waiting to see when the rubber hits the road,” he said.
The Loddon region, which includes Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Mt Alexander, Macedon Ranges, Bendigo and Loddon shires, has 3000 public houses. A parliamentary inquiry into the public housing renewal program last month revealed 57,877 adults and 24,622 children were waiting for social housing across the state.
Executive Officer Victorian Public Tenants Association Mark Feenane said: “Years of neglect has left too many public housing properties in desperate need of repair. Upgrading these residences with modern homes will mean a lot to the tenants living on the Virginia Hill Estate. We hope that tenants are at the heart of the decision-making about their estate.”
A spokesperson for the state government said the community at the Virginia Hill estate will be asked what changes they would like – be it more housing or public space improvements – before decisions are made.