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In Braybrook, vacant public housing properties are empty

One of the unoccupied houses was previously rented by her elderly neighbor, who left the property to enter a nursing home.

Charging

Cuzzupe said the house had been empty for a year.

“I’ve been in that house and it’s perfectly fine for someone to move in there,” he said.

In response to questions from Age, A Department of Families, Equity and Housing spokeswoman said eight properties in Braybrook would be redeveloped as part of the Commonwealth Government’s $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator programme, announced last June.

But Cuzzupe questioned why it had taken almost a year for any of the houses in Braybrook to be rented to people who desperately needed a new home.

“It’s a joke,” he said. “By the time that kicks in, I’ll be 60.”

Another empty state house in Braybrook.

Another empty state house in Braybrook.Credit: Jason South

State government data shows that as of March 31 this year, there were 48,620 applicants seeking public or community housing on the Victorian Housing Registry.

When Age When I visited Braybrook last week, there were nine empty properties, all owned by the Victorian government. Many of them were old weatherboard houses, with tin roofs and wooden boards nailed to the windows. Another was a more modern brick house that was structurally intact but fenced.

The government spokesperson said one of the houses in Braybrook was ready to be let to a tenant and had already been offered to an applicant on the Victorian Housing Registry. Two houses required more extensive work before they were ready to be rented, they said.

“We are housing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, and more than 7,000 households moved into social housing last year, a 29 per cent increase on the previous year,” the spokesperson said.

The number of households moving into social housing was 5,553 in financial year 2021-22 and 7,152 in financial year 2022-23, according to the state government.

“The department works hard to ensure properties are let as soon as possible, including carrying out the necessary inspections, safety checks and repairs in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act before the property is ready for the next tenants.”

Victorian Public Tenants Association chief executive Katelyn Butterss said demand for public housing was increasing across the state.

Last year, there was a 94 percent increase in demand for the association’s assistance.

Mr Butterss said there had been a “flagrant lack of commitment to the growth of public housing” by governments for many years.

“Housing is a human right and everyone deserves the dignity of a home,” he said. “It is unacceptable that in Australia, in 2024, we cannot achieve this.”

In response to the housing crisis, the Victorian government has committed to delivering an average of 80,000 homes a year over the next decade as part of its $5.3 billion Big Homebuild. However, it is currently well short of that goal.

In 2023, construction had started on just 53,711 houses, flats and townhouses, the lowest annual total since 2013. The Housing Industry Association’s latest forecast is that by 2024, construction will have started on just 52,332 new homes and will increase slightly to 55,175. in 2025.

One of nine empty state-owned houses The Age looked at in Braybrook.

One of nine empty state-owned houses The Age looked at in Braybrook.Credit: Jason South

According to the government’s own estimates, Victoria will need to build around 57,000 homes each year just to keep pace with increasing population growth; Melbourne is expected to increase by approximately 1 million people over the next decade.

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