Shepparton City Council supports a bold proposal to build council housing in a parking lot in the heart of the city.
- Beyond Housing and Wintringham plan to build affordable housing on a parking lot in Shepparton’s CBD
- Greater Shepparton City Council is seeking community input on the proposal
- Shepparton currently has the worst homelessness rates in the Victoria area
The plan is still in the conception phase as homelessness rates in the region are reaching the crisis point.
The council was recently contacted by Beyond Housing and Wintringham to provide general support for public housing construction in the airspace above the Maude / Nixon Street and Edward Street car parks.
The urban property is to be converted into a four-story complex.
The original public car park on the ground floor, a residential car park on the first floor and an estimated 30 apartments on the second and third floors are planned.
“Given the terrible homelessness we are facing, it is difficult to say no to this project,” said Cr Seema Abdullah at the council meeting on Tuesday.
Cr Seema Abdullah calls on the Council to support the proposal. (Supplied: Greater Shepparton City Council)
“The council has long been accused of failing to address the issues of affordable housing and homelessness in our region.
“We cannot miss an opportunity like this to address the situation.”
Plan could address “desperate” situation
The latest data shows that Shepparton has the highest homelessness rate in the Victoria area at 5.6 homeless per 1,000.
More than 1,500 households are currently languishing on long waiting lists for social housing, 829 are waiting for priority access.
“It’s desperate,” said Mayor Kim O’Keeffe.
Meanwhile, rent affordability figures show Shepparton rents are “very” unaffordable for single people with benefits.
Shepparton has the highest homelessness rates in the Victoria area. (ABC Gold Coast: Tara Cassidy)
And this only got worse during the pandemic as prices skyrocketed as city dwellers flee to the countryside.
To address this crisis, the Victorian government pledged at least $ 45 million last year for affordable housing projects in the greater Shepparton area.
“How wonderful that we’re finally getting financial support,” said Cr O’Keeffe.
“But where we’re going to put this case will always be difficult.”
More than five in 1,000 people in Shepparton struggle with homelessness. (ABC News: Isabel Dayman)
Council seeks input from the community
The Council is currently soliciting opinions from citizens and businesses on the proposal.
Cr O’Keeffe admitted that not everyone would be a fan.
“There are location concerns,” she said.
“But we really want to deal with inner-city living. And if you look at the airspace in the CBD, we know that some people are already building apartments. “
Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe says not everyone will support the proposal. (Supplied: Greater Shepparton City Council)
She said some were concerned about the “types of people” who would live in the complex.
“People from all walks of life experience living stress,” said Cr O’Keeffe.
“But I think that’s one thing we do, we name the people.
“If it was a high-end apartment block, we might not be having this conversation.”
She stressed that if the proposal were implemented it would be well managed.
“We have the youth foyer in the CBD, which was a very successful build,” she said.
“But change is always difficult, so you won’t please everyone.”