Wednesday, May 11, 2011

affordable housing - a serious concern for local government

The impacts of the lack of affordable housing options for renters and buyers, affecting a widening demographic in local communities is of growing concern to local governments, according to a survey and forum conducted by the Victorian Local Governance Association - VLGA (of which I'm president).

The survey and forum show that housing affordability for home buyers is only one dimension of the rapidly growing housing crisis.

The lack of community and social housing is also affecting the most vulnerable members of local communities. Better cooperation between the three tiers of government is a logical way to make a difference.

Key findings of the survey indicate that there is an emerging housing crisis in rural and regional areas, coupled with a lack of resources within local government for developing appropriate strategic responses. The survey also underscores the recent finding that Melbourne is now the least affordable city for residential housing in the country.

A key measure requiring the attention of the new State Government is the need to change state planning laws, so that at the very least, local governments and developers can enter into voluntary affordable housing agreements without fear of being overruled by VCAT.

The VLGA also calls on the State Government to resource a significant increase in the capacity of local government to develop and implement local affordable housing strategies.

This should not be done as a cost shift from other levels of government, who have most of the tools and powers to really make a difference. It is more cost effective for all tiers of government to work together to improve partnerships and cooperation. A first step should be the collation of reliable local data highlighting affordable housing needs across the state. Once the data is collated specific local strategies for increasing the supply and diversity of affordable housing can be developed.

The VLGA will continue to profile the importance of affordable and diverse housing, it plays a key role in underpinning sustainable and engaged communities.

If you'd like to know more about the VLGA's work on Affordable Housing visit this link. The VLGA's forum on the issue is available via webcast and can be viewed here.

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