A special feature by RMIT journalists Annelise Ireland and Peter Whelan

    As the public housing crisis in Victoria continues to worsen, research shows the western suburbs of Melbourne are being impacted more than any other region. 

    Research conducted by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) in conjunction with the UNSW City Futures Research Centre in February this year shows Victoria has the lowest proportion of social housing in the country, with Melbourne’s west the lowest. 

    Brimbank municipality has the highest incidence of homelessness in Melbourne, including rough sleepers and those couch surfing, according to Brimbank City Council, with 3,801 residents left without housing. Homelessness in Footscray affects 86 people in every 10,000 and the Victorian average is 42 per 10,000 people.

    Public housing provides long-term, secure and affordable rental homes to low income families and individuals. However, according to the CHIA’s report into Victoria’s housing stress, 6.9 percent of public housing residents in Melbourne’s west are not appropriately housed, translating to approximately 20,000 households.

    The State Government recently announced its Big Housing Build worth over $5.3 billion. The program aims to ‘deliver’ 12,000 new social and affordable homes across the state, but falls far short of the 60,000 homes required to support Victoria’s lower income population according to Jess Pomeroy, Acting CEO of the CHIA.

    The 2023 June quarter rental report from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Victoria shows that availability of lettings fell 14.5% in suburbs such as Williamstown, Newport, Spotswood and Yarraville over the past year. At the same time the price of a 2 bedroom rental house rose from $380 per week to $420 per week in Melbourne’s outer west. 

    The reasons for the rental squeeze are complex and are being felt across Melbourne, but one significant factor is the rise of AirBnB accommodation. On September 18, former Victorian Premier Dan Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne that between 30,000 and 40,000 homes are being leased via AirBnB or other holiday rental platforms, further reducing the state’s housing stock.

    Andrews’ comments came shortly before his resignation, and after his state government announced its long awaited plans to address the rental crisis, which included cuts to local council planning powers. 

    In a submission to the ‘Inquiry into the rental and housing affordability crisis in Victoria’, self described ‘rentvestor’ Lachlan Simpson drew from his experiences as both a renter and a landlord to highlight the ‘lack of regulation and policing of the real estate industry, and the lack of options available for recourse when the industry behaved poorly.’

    ‘Their payment model – a percentage of the rental price – also puts them in a position to maximise the rent on any property. They are disincentivised to make housing affordable,’ he wrote. 

    Storymaps link:


    RMIT special feature
    RMIT special feature
    RMIT journalism students investigate important issues for the west.

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #97 June 2024

    Recent editions


    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles