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Charity focus on homeless

North Melbourne charity and outreach service VincentCare hope to expand a subsidised housing program into Yarra next year to address the need for affordable housing.

The group aims to lift its affordable housing stocks, offering subsidised rent, by 100 across the state after successfully leasing six properties across Melbourne’s North West.

VincentCare chief executive John Blewonski said the program aimed to connect the needy with long- term housing in the private rental market.

“Our street counts tell us there is a significant need (for affordable housing),” he said. “We can’t shut down sleeping spots because that just moves the problem somewhere else.”

Mr Blewonski said the need for affordable housing was made evident in the number of people sleeping rough in Yarra and the CBD.

While a target is yet to be set for Yarra, Mr Blewonski said, the need was significant given the almost 200 people a day who access services at Ozanam House in North Melbourne.

VincentCare currently manages about 200 properties of its own and an additional 280 on behalf of the State Government.

Mr Blewonski said a larger proportion of the properties acquired under early work on the failed East West Link should be given to social housing providers.

He said it was unlikely the number of properties being offered to social housing providers would rise.

“Twenty houses have been given to social housing organisations like ours but there is need for more. There has been little consultation and I think (the houses) will be publicly released.”

“There is housing stock available to help society’s most marginalised.”

It was revealed last week the houses acquired under EWL work, many in Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Parkville, will be put up for public sale next year.

It comes as the Homelessness Action Group held a forum in North Melbourne last week to address the burgeoning need for affordable housing and offer a more integrated approach.

“We need to listen to the needs of the homeless to move forward,” Mr Blewonski said.

He expected the State Government to release a report in housing and homelessness for the next state budget.

The Melbourne Leader

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