Wodonga Council and housing support agencies have welcomed a state government pilot that will see social housing dwellings built on the former Wodonga South Primary School site.
The development, to be overseen by Planning Minister Richard Wynne, will likely be the biggest addition of affordable housing to the city since Elmwood Estate’s first stage was built in 2008.
Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie said the inclusionary housing pilot would mean “more housing is provided for those that need it most”.
“With the public and private sectors working together, it means that we continue to see growth and momentum in our city and the infill of a key vacant site in our city,” she said.
“With the oversight of the state and with the example of Elmwood here near the CBD, we hope to see a really good outcome on the site.”
Beyond Housing client services manager Catherine Jefferies also welcomed news of the project.
“It is early days and it’s only just been released, but we’re excited there is an initiative out there and to have more affordable houses in our area,” she said.
“In Wodonga alone last year we saw 600 families seeking assistance.”
An analysis by the Council to Homeless Persons as part of National Homelessness Week, which concluded yesterday, found there were just eight one-bedroom rentals in Wodonga that would be affordable to a single person on a low income in the March quarter.
“Homelessness in Wodonga is being driven by the shortage of cheap rentals available for people on low incomes,” said chief executive Jenny Smith.
“The private rental market is failing the poor and disadvantaged, and we’re seeing more and more people bedding down on couches, living in rooming houses and cycling through crisis accommodation.
“The median rent in Wodonga is $300 per week, but the minimum wage is just $719 per week, so people are left living in rent stress.”
Ms Smith said the federal and state governments needed to work together to establish more social housing.
“Homelessness has risen 14 per cent over five years and federal homelessness funding has declined 16 per cent over the same period,” she said.