By Marcus Uhe
The incidence of people presenting as homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness in the City of Casey is of “continuing concern”, according to council Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff.
According to the council, one in seven households with a mortgage in the City of Casey is experiencing mortgage stress, while almost one in three rental households are in rental stress.
The City of Casey was identified in November 2020 as one of 21 priority local government areas for Victoria’s Big Housing Build, where $5.3 billion was allocated for 2900 new affordable homes for first home buyers and renters and more than 9300 new social housing dwellings across the state.
The council’s Affordable Housing Strategy, adopted in December 2020, states that there was a shortfall of 5655 affordable housing dwellings with an unmet need in Casey.
Forecasting identifies the need for 4600 additional affordable housing dwellings, on top of the current demand, to meet future need in 2041, which equates to the need for around 10,000 house dwellings over the next 20 years.
The current population of 390,793 is expected to swell to 550,000 by 2041 according to the Draft 10-year asset plan released Thursday 14 April 2022.
The City of Casey works with support organisations including WAYSS, Community Information and Support Cranbourne and Ermha, underlying Ms Duff’s belief that those in crisis must also be accompanied by a “prevention approach that addresses the broader social factors that lead to homelessness.”
The issue will remain high on the agenda for the council as Victorians head to the polls later in the year.
“Council will continue its advocacy seeking representation of diverse housing types to meet specific regional needs including crisis accommodation as well as funding for further support for those at risk of homelessness in Casey in the lead up to the state election,” Ms Duff said.
It follows council’s submission to the Victorian Government’s 2021 Inquiry into Homeless, in which the City of Casey advocated that all Victorians “right to access appropriate housing, and it is the responsibility of all levels of governments to work together to eliminate homelessness in our state”.
“The submission focuses on the current and future states of homelessness in the City of Casey and the housing market factors that contribute to the growing rates of homelessness in the municipality,” Ms Duff said.
“As part of the council’s advocacy work in this space, the council has partnered with 12 other local governments in the eastern Melbourne region to form the Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter Group to end homelessness and advocate for more social and affordable housing.”
Other local government areas in the Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter Group include Cardinia Shire, City of Greater Dandenong, Monash City Council and the City of Frankston.
In their joint submission to the Inquiry into homelessness in Australia in 2020, the Charter Group identified that Casey, Cardinia and Dandenong had more people living in “severely overcrowded dwellings”, compared to other municipalities with higher rates of people sleeping rough or living in boarding shelters.
Their submission made a number of recommendations to the Federal Government, including prioritising mental health options for those at risk of homelessness, recognize the direct link between family violence and homelessness and the specific needs of the cohort in the design and delivery of the support services and invest in more youth accommodation and transitional housing services.