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No Commonwealth Games, but more social housing

The Victorian Government has committed to spending $1 billion on more than 1300 social housing homes across the state as a result of pulling out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the shock decision today, saying $2.6 billion had been pledged and set aside to fund the Games but the latest figures put the final cost at as much as $7 billion.

“It is, in fact, at least $6 billion and could be as high as $7 billion,” he said.

“I cannot stand here and say to you that I have any confidence that even $7 billion would appropriately and adequately fund these games, I think it could be more than that.”

“All of our pre-tender work tells us that $6-7 billion is well and truly too much for a 12-day sporting event. 

“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost, as estimated and budgeted for last year.”

Instead, Mr Andrews announced a $2 billion regional spending package that would include still building each of the permanent sporting facilities that were to have legacy benefits, a substantial regional tourism fund and funding for community-based sport.

“Perhaps, most importantly, there will be a $1 billion boost for social and affordable housing right across regional Victoria, not just in those hub cities, but there will be at least 1300 new homes constructed across regional Victoria,” he said.

“This represents a massive boost and a direct response to what is perhaps the biggest challenge across regional Victoria, and indeed across our state, and that is the supply of housing and the number of housing options that Victorians have before them.”

The extra social housing announcement comes just days after an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed social housing makes up just 2.9 per cent of Victoria’s residential properties, the lowest of any state or territory in the country.

The Council to Homeless Persons welcomed the social housing commitment.

“The Andrews Government has been clear about the social housing legacy it was intending to deliver from the Commonwealth Games,” Council Chief Executive Officer Deborah Di Natale said.

“With the Games no longer going ahead, it was absolutely critical a commitment to build regional social housing remained on the table.

“Regional rents have gone through the roof while vacancy rates have remained very low. That’s a perfect storm pushing more people into homelessness.

“This is a statewide crisis so it’s really important to see the new social housing commitment extend beyond the four regional hubs that would have hosted the Games.

“Building at least 1300 social and affordable housing properties will have enormous social and economic benefits for regional Victoria.”

Ms Di Natale also called on the State Government to commit to further social housing given the gravity of the issue in Victoria.

“We can supercharge those gains with a commitment to building at least 6000 public and community homes every year,” she said.

“Ending homelessness and fixing the housing crisis hinges on a commitment of that magnitude.”

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) Victoria also welcomed the $1 billion Regional Housing Fund.

“This investment will be life-changing for the many regional Victorians who are in hardship as a result of the housing crisis,”  CHIA Victoria acting CEO Jason Perdriau said.

“The Regional Housing Fund will deliver homes that are desperately needed. 

“We know more than 36,000 households in regional Victoria are experiencing homelessness, housing stress or living in overcrowded homes – additional social and affordable housing will make a difference.

“Investment in social housing is an investment in the economic prosperity of Victoria. 

“Safe, stable, affordable housing can ease pressure placed on our hospitals, judicial system and community services, and improve the liveability of our suburbs.”

The $1 billion boost complements the Victorian Government’s historic $5.3 billion Big Housing Build program, as well as the Federal Government’s recently announced Social Housing Accelerator that committed $496 million to the state. 

“Today’s announcement comes as the Victorian Government considers other major reforms to planning and housing supply,” Mr Perdriau said.

“This provides a critical opportunity to deliver a long-term plan and investment pipeline for social and affordable housing that spans electoral and economic cycles and creates a fairer housing system for all Victorians.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.