HUNDREDS of people are homeless on the Mornington Peninsula while at least 26 state government-owned houses are sitting vacant.
Another 18 are also empty, although they are slated to be demolished or redeveloped.
The shortage of permanent houses is also exacerbated by the number of privately-owned properties used as short-stay, or holiday rentals.
A report by the Salvation Army last year estimated there were 2600 people experiencing homelessness in the federal electorate of Flinders, which covers most of the peninsula.
Unverified data provided to The News puts the number of holiday rental properties at 4529, with most being located between Mornington and Portsea. Rye, with 901 properties, tops the list followed by Rosebud/McCrae (6723), Blairgowrie (465), Sorrento (464), Dromana (399) and Mount Martha (279).
Market researcher CoreLogic says seven of the state’s top eight postcodes for rental increases between January 2020 and 2022 are on peninsula.
Families are being forced to sleep in cars and people are sleeping in tents on foreshore camping areas opened by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Others are sleeping rough on the foreshore but can also use the camping ground facilities (“Car sleepers rise amid housing crisis” The News 17/5/22).
Since that report on the dire plight of the homeless on the peninsula – which is also due to rising rents and house prices – The News has been given the addresses of several government-owned houses lying empty.
One resident said a three-bedroom house in Robertson Drive, Mornington had been vacant for about four years and, while the lawns were kept mowed and it appeared to be in good order, it sat empty.
There were also single public tenants living in three-bedroom homes better suited to families, but who had not been offered alternative accommodation.
Others spoke of damaged properties left untouched for years.
Victoria spends less than any other Australian state or territory on public housing, with data from 2018 showing at least 80,000 people on the waiting list for housing.
Details of the state government’s $53 million Big Build plan show it will increase housing stock on the peninsula by 26.
There are 1428 social housing properties on the peninsula, but as of 31 March there were 2544 households on the Victorian Housing Register for the area, which includes the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston.
A 2020 parliamentary inquiry into homelessness suggested a strategy was needed for making more efficient use of housing stock.
However, on census night in 2016, 1,089,165 public and private properties were recorded as being vacant across Australia, representing 11.2 per cent of the housing supply.