Victoria has a historic opportunity to end homelessness over the next few years, and we can’t afford to miss this window. It may never come again.
Nobody asked for a pandemic or a recession, but we have them nonetheless.
These two events are causing untold health, social and economic damage, and will do for years to come.
But while it may seem distasteful on the surface to even mention it, they also present us with a golden opportunity to end homelessness.
That’s not hyperbole.
Here are four things occuring right now that have created an unprecedented window of opportunity for Victoria to end homelessness by launching in a significant social housing building program:
1. Money has never been cheaper
With the global economy in turmoil, interest rates are currently below the rate of inflation. As Guardian Australia’s Greg Jericho has explained in detail, this means governments can effectively borrow money for free right now. Following a flood of emergency spending to combat COVID-19, federal and state governments have also shelved their recent fixation with budget surpluses.
So money isn’t an obstacle anymore—especially as we’re talking about spending it on critical public infrastructure, anyway.
2. The economy desperately needs stimulus
Literally hundreds of thousands of Australians are out of work right now, many of them in Victoria. At the same time, housing construction has flatlined. Demand for the goods and services provided by businesses that support the building industry have fallen in turn.
What better way to boost jobs than by launching a Big Build to End Homelessness in Victoria?
As well as building the public and community housing we desperately need, the money would eventually flow into the wider economy. It will be spent in shops and businesses right across the state.
3. The need has never been greater
According to pre-pandemic modelling, about 25,000 people are homeless in Victoria on any given night. There are more than 100,000 people currently on Victoria’s housing wait list—more than enough to fill the MCG.
Giving these people a home would be a game changer.
4. The public want it done.
According to an exclusive new poll, most Victorians want the State Government to build “significantly more public and community housing” as part of the response to COVID-19. This support is rock solid across a range of demographics: age, gender, where you live, who you vote for.
So the jury’s in. Victorians have spoken clearly.
They want their government to get moving on this.
Victoria has a magic moment where the case for action is undeniable, and the lure of inaction is unforgivable.
This begs a few questions: if not now, then when? If not us, then who?
If we’re not bold enough to do what’s required now, with the wind at our backs, will we ever be?
Let’s not throw away our shot.