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Council creates new role to address housing challenge

hand holding keys

Council has appointed a Housing Officer to investigate and scope the opportunities for boosting affordable housing in the shire.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Mount Alexander Shire Council has appointed a dedicated Housing Officer to address the opportunities for boosting affordable housing in the shire.

Clare Richards began in the new role early this month and has already begun meeting with community groups and other key stakeholders to understand the challenges and identify the opportunities for affordable long-term housing for low and middle-income households.

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Darren Fuzzard said Council had appointed Ms Richards to advocate for Victorian Government support to maximise those opportunities.

“The Victorian Government has established a $5.3 billion Big Housing Build fund specifically to boost the supply of social and affordable housing and we want to access a share of that.

“For quite some time now our community has been calling loudly and clearly for Council to get involved in addressing housing affordability.

“In developing fresh plans to set our strategic direction, we asked our communities right across the shire what they wanted us to focus on and the lack of affordable housing repeatedly emerged as a priority,” said Mr Fuzzard.

“It’s now a clear objective in our new four-year Council Plan for 2021-2025 to do the best we can to address that.”

Ms Richards has already met with members of the community-led My Home Network which was established in the shire in 2019 to address the same challenge.

She is also meeting with other local, state and private sector stakeholders to scope the needs, priorities and opportunities in our shire. That includes scoping out available sites and identifying funding.

“Housing affordability is all about ensuring all community members are able to live safely in our community,” said Ms Richards.

“It’s also about ensuring that we can keep our elders and our young people in our community as well as those who perform fundamental and essential services.

“That means having homes for rent or purchase available for low to moderate income households at a percentage of their income that also allows them to meet their essential living costs and is sustainable for them over the long term.”

Ms Richards said a lack of affordable housing was affecting communities everywhere and that current conditions were especially challenging for creating opportunities for it to be developed.

“We have an influx of people seeking housing. Our builders and developers are busy and accessing suitable smaller and medium sized sites is challenging.

“However most people know somebody either in their own families or their neighbourhoods or communities whose housing needs are not being met and it’s my job to lead Council’s efforts to address this.”

Ms Richards is an experienced advocate for local government at state and federal government level and in the private sector on housing, community, health and aged care services.

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