The State Government is being called on to explain why public housing is sitting empty in Gippsland while people are desperate for a roof over their head.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has called on the Minister for Housing for answers with recent figures confirming that more than 67,000 Victorians were on the public housing waitlist as of December 2022.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr O’Brien said his office has recently received an unprecedented amount of calls querying why social housing properties right across Gippsland South appear to be being left to sit vacant.
“I am calling on the Minister to explain why I keep getting reports and requests from my constituents about empty public housing in Gippsland,” Mr O’Brien said.
“In the last six months or more in particular, I have been receiving reports from people who are concerned that public housing is sitting vacant at a time when we have a significant waiting list for people looking for public housing and there is also pressure on our private housing sector, which of course is putting downward pressure on the public housing market.
“I have reports of vacant homes in Sale, Foster and Korumburra just in the last few months and each time we have followed them up there has been either a reason or an excuse from the department.
“Regularly we get reports that a house has just been finished or has just been renovated and is now being tenanted, but these reports keep coming up.”
Mr O’Brien said he understood that it was reasonable for houses to be vacant for brief periods of time while there is a changeover in tenants, when there is the death of a tenant, when there are repairs being undertaken or of course when there is construction. But with the public housing waitlist continuing to balloon he wanted assurances that there were no unnecessary delays in getting a roof over vulnerable Victorian’s heads.
“I would like to know what the current number of vacant public housing properties in Gippsland is, what the current time period is that homes are vacant, what the current maintenance backlog is for public housing in Gippsland and indeed what the current waiting list is for the Gippsland region.
“It is a concern for me that this is something I did not have reports on in the first seven or eight years of my career, but it has happened in the last 12 months consistently, and there does seem to be either a long period of time when homes are being left vacant or a bigger lag in the time for changeovers.
“When so many are in need of a house, leaving these homes vacant is criminal, and I would like the minister to give an explanation as to why this is occurring.”