Housing is foundational to a just life. Without an adequate, affordable and safe roof over your head, it’s fair to say that life is a struggle. Which means disparities in housing, including who owns it, where it is, and what form it takes, underpin inequality more generally.
In South Gippsland, there is, along with the problem of homelessness, a lack of affordable rentals, particularly for single parent families. Which also makes it hard for local businesses to find staff, as workers wanting to move to the area struggle to find rental properties.
In addition, a lack of affordable housing, including shelters and other social housing, means there’s no escape if your current situation is unsafe owing to family violence.
At present, housing and construction represents some $385m, or 12% of the local economy, and employs 947 people, or 8.5% of the workforce. It is an industry that could be vastly expanded, as the demand and the need for low-carbon homes, as well as public housing, becomes more and more pressing.
On top of new builds, old homes could be retrofitted with insulation, sun protection, solar power and batteries, starting with the homes of low-income residents whose upgrades could be subsidised through public procurement. This would reduce emissions and power bills, and provide jobs for local trades people, including those who could be recruited and trained in the sector without having to leave South Gippsland.
What would it take for the region to provide adequate and affordable housing for all? Do we need to invest significantly in public and social housing? Where should such housing be built and in what way? How would it be financed? Does a reliance on tourism lead to housing inequality? And how can we build and retrofit not only low-carbon homes, but deal with issues of erosion and other environmental factors that increasing the housing stock presents?
Southern Gippsland spans Bunurong and Gunai-Kurnai country. We acknowledge that this land is unceded and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. A just transition is one that allows for First Nations sovereignty.
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