Victoria slashes and burns homeless amid housing crisis


I reported last week that Victoria was the ground zero of Australia’s homelessness crisis.

Victoria has the lowest share of social housing in Australia, at just 3% of all dwellings. That is well below the national average of 4.2%, which is itself low by international standards.

One year ago, The Guardian reported that Victoria’s social housing stock grew by only 74 dwellings in four years “despite huge waiting list”.

“At the same time the social housing waitlist has grown by about 45% – from about 44,000 applications in June 2018 to 64,168 in June 2022”.


7News also reported in November that the Victorian Government had “demolished more public housing than it’s built over the last four years”:


According to 7News, “the department’s annual report revealed that for every 26 homes taken out of the system, only 12 are being rebuilt”.

Meanwhile, “65,000 Victorians remain on the public housing waiting list”.

A fortnight ago, The Guardian reported that Victoria’s housing crisis is the worst in the nation and growing.

“Victoria still has the lowest proportion of social housing out of all states and territories and the public housing waitlist was 60,708 applications long in December”, The Guardian’s Inequality reporter Cait Kelly wrote.


“At the last census, 30,660 people were recorded as homeless, about five times the national average”.

“The state’s experience demonstrates a national reality – that solving a problem stemming from decades of underinvestment can’t happen overnight”.

With this background in mind, it was disturbing to read in The Age that “one of Victoria’s most successful homelessness programs is set to be slashed by 75% amid the worst housing crisis in decades, as the Allan government scrambles to find savings ahead of the May budget”.

“Some 1500 fewer people will benefit from the state’s From Homelessness to a Home scheme when its funding is cut from July, government tender documents seen by The Age show”.

“Graduates from the program – which supports unhoused people in finding permanent homes within 12 months and has a 90% success rate – and the peak body for homelessness are demanding the decision be reversed and for similar measures to be ringfenced from budget cuts”.

One of the most disturbing aspects of all this is that while the Victorian Government is slashing funding for homelessness, it is paying top bureaucrat Jeroen Weimar $533,000 a year to lead the government’s housing policy in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

If the Victorian government spent less on its bloated bureaucracy, questionable infrastructure projects, and its army of advisers, it might have enough money to fund essential front-line public services.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.