WELFARE leaders say Warrnambool needs more public housing with figures showing 28 per cent of households on low incomes are facing crushing rents.
More than 1500 households on weekly incomes of $640 or less in the South West Coast electorate are struggling to get by.
The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) says the most vulnerable homes are spending one third of their wage on rent.
Council policy and communications manager Sarah Toohey said while one in four houses in the state faced rent stress, the figure was closer to one in three for Warrnambool.
“The median rent in Warrnambool is $280, so that could be nearly half your income if you are on minimum wage and it would be even worse if you are on welfare payments,” she said. About 465 people are on the public housing waiting list in the region.
She said regional and rural people faced a double-edged sword of fewer properties and high cost of living. The council wants the state government to spend $200 million a year on creating 800 new social housing dwellings to address low income renters who are forced into the private rental market.
SalvoConnect south-west manager Lindsay Stow said “targeted” public housing was needed to accommodate different age groups and demographics. Mr Stow said Warrnambool’s supply of public housing, built between the 1950s and 1970s, was made up of three-bedroom homes made primarily for families.
“Single people are more difficult to assist and in public housing there just isn’t enough of their stock number,” he said.
“Historically, Warrnambool has had high rents compared to other parts of the state.”
Mr Stow said it typically took between three to four months for SalvoConnect to locate public housing for families.
Ms Toohey said the state government said the call for 800 new public houses was just a fraction of the demand.
“If you look at population growth, we would have to build 2000 public properties a year to keep up with growth,” she said