Plan to house the homeless

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire will support small scale residential village-style accommodation for low-income earners away from the foreshore as part of its new social and affordable housing strategies.

The mayor Cr Sam Hearn estimates up to 1000 people are homeless on the peninsula on any given night, with 30-50 sleeping rough and others “couch surfing” or making do as best they can.

Up to 11 tents were at Rosebud camp ground one night last week, with others at foreshore camping grounds from McCrae down to Sorrento.

“Council can play a significant role in supporting grassroots action to address homelessness and connecting residents with affordable and appropriate housing,” Cr Hearn said.

“Ensuring everyone in our community has somewhere safe to live is a goal that is close to my heart, and this policy and additional plans are an important step towards achieving that.”

The emphasis on low-cost housing is a key feature of the Triple A Housing Plan 2020-30, social and affordable housing and rooming house policies adopted by council at its 21 April meeting.

The plan calls for more housing finance, making affordable housing part of the shire’s planning scheme as well as increasing housing diversity and supply across the peninsula. It aims to “incentivise” social and affordable housing, encourage sponsorship of low-cost housing and to include the homeless in housing strategies.

Cr Hearn said no specific sites for village-style accommodation had been chosen but that the shire had spoken with Nepean MP Chris Brayne about possible sites and finance.

One possibility is the reserve adjoining the Mornington Peninsula Freeway extension near Boneo Road. The area has been touted as an ideal site for tiny houses which can be trucked in and set up with minimum fuss.

Cr Hearn said shire planners were putting together a list of sites and projects which might be financed under a state government-led stimulus package.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see the gap filled in that area although it really is a state government matter,” he said.

Following community workshops on social and affordable housing in 2018 council aims to set up a reference group to “foster and advance social and affordable housing initiatives for those in need”.

The shire’s senior social planner housing justice and advocacy Rosalyn Franklin in a report to council on 21 April said while federal and state governments had the primary responsibility for housing local government had a “key role to play ranging from direct project contributions, coordination, advocacy, supporting system improvements and related services”.

“The shire’s role will always focus on identifying gaps in the system that affect the Mornington Peninsula, working out how existing resources can be stretched further and incentivising and facilitating needed improvements and new projects by, or, in partnership with others,” she said.

Cr Simon Brooks said council’s plan would provide a framework to progress social housing on the peninsula.

“New social and affordable housing planning applications will be fast tracked, meaning housing is available for those who need it most,” he said.

Other features include making council land or money available for housing projects and making sure homeless people are treated with respect and have access to shelter, food and basic utilities.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 12 May 2020

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