The Victorian Government's historic $5.3 billion public housing plan has been described as "world changing" by the head of the Border's largest food relief agency.
Albury-Wodonga Regional FoodShare chief Simon Welsh says the program, which will see 12,000 new homes built across the next four years, will help break the cycle of poverty for families and their children for generations to come.
He described the level of investment as "unprecedented" and on a scale never before seen in this country.
"This will transform the lives of thousands and thousands of people in Victoria, including in our local region," Mr Welsh said.
"It's hard to get a job if you are homeless and it's hard to go to school if you don't have a home.
"This sets the benchmark for what needs to happen everywhere; every dollar of this is needed and justified because the demand is so huge."
The $5.3 billion plan involves:
- 9300 new homes, including replacing 1100 old public housing units
- 2900 low-cost homes
- 25 per cent of dwellings built in regional Victoria
Wodonga and Wangaratta have been specifically earmarked in the plan, which outlines that one-quarter of the new dwellings will be built in regional Victoria.
Together with homelessness and housing support agencies and other charities, FoodShare is "excited by the possibilities" of the announcement, according to Mr Welsh.
"In the long term this will help break the cycle of poverty," he said.
"All the statistics point to the vast need for more social housing and we know a lot of the existing social housing is in really poor condition.
"People under-estimate the demand because a lot of it is invisible when you take into account factors like couch surfing among younger people.
"On a proportional basis, Wodonga has higher levels of poverty and demand for (this) housing."
Globally homelessness is rising, particularly among older women and single mothers that may be fleeing domestic violence or facing economic hardship as a result of COVID-19.
A home gives them a fighting chance - to get a job, to get back on their feet and get on with their lives, according to Mr Welsh.
And the beauty of this investment is it "pays for itself".
"Social housing creates jobs and there is the social return; when you have more secure housing, you tend to have less need for the health system and improved educational outcomes," Mr Welsh said.
Premier Daniel Andrews' announcement is the news "we've been waiting for".
"It's more than a big headline," Mr Welsh said.
"This level of funding means people who are our clients can be more stable in their living conditions and (hopefully) won't need us anymore.
"Nothing would make us happier."