The Nationals Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron, is calling on the Andrews Government to immediately address the lack of housing in the Latrobe Valley as a matter of emergency.
Homelessness in Victoria has surged a staggering 24 per cent in just five years and data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows 2783 people in Latrobe accessed Specialised Homelessness Services (SHS) last financial year – more than any other regional municipality in Victoria.
“This data is damning, and it doesn’t even account for the huge number of people and families who are sleeping in their cars, couch surfing, living in motels, or finding temporary respite in overcrowded dwellings,” Mr Cameron said.
“These people are slipping through the cracks, and our local support services do a power of work, but they are stretched thin and not adequately resourced to meet demand.
“A combination of factors – the skyrocketing cost of living, scarcity of private rentals, long wait lists for public housing and the collapse of several building companies – have combined to create a perfect storm.
“We have a higher rate people accessing Specialised Homelessness Services than anywhere else in regional Victoria, and we need immediate relief on the ground in the form of bricks and mortar.
“The Andrews Government allocated a minimum of $60 million to the Latrobe Valley when its Big Housing Build was announced more than two years ago, and I am calling on the Minister for Housing to provide an immediate update about construction of homes in the Valley and a comprehensive project delivery timeline.
“In addition to the dire need for housing and accommodation, full accessibility needs to be restored at the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing office in Morwell which is currently open by appointment only. As ground zero to the housing crisis, it is simply not good enough that people are being referred to a phone service during what is often one of the most vulnerable periods of their life.
“Billions are spent on mega city projects like the Suburban Rail Loop to benefit metropolitan Melbourne, but when it comes to providing the bare necessities like housing in regional Victoria, the Andrews Government goes missing time and time again.
“The repeated and chronic underspending in regional Victoria has exacerbated the housing and homelessness crisis, and the Andrews Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to such critical issues just because they are beyond the Pakenham border.”