The City of Melbourne Council has made a proposal to transform two Council-owned sites into new affordable housing, in an effort to combat the city’s housing crisis. 

Council’s Affordable Housing Strategy sets an ambitious target to deliver up to 25 per cent of affordable housing on Council land to address the current shortfall of over 6,000 affordable homes across the city, which is set to increase to 23,000 by 2036. 

About 2600m² of land is proposed to be converted into multi-unit affordable housing on Curzon Street in North Melbourne and Victoria Street in West Melbourne, which could include provisions for key workers, Aboriginal peoples and older women.   

A further $1.5 million will be invested in Council’s draft Budget 2024-25 to provide the community’s most vulnerable members with the support they need through frontline services. 

The Curzon and Victoria streets projects acknowledge the City of Melbourne’s commitment to providing affordable housing for key workers, who are employees required to attend their workplace and are generally low-to-middle income earners.  

The City of Melbourne has more key workers than anywhere else in Victoria, approximately 142,000, almost a quarter of whom travel more than 30km to work. 

Community consultation on the proposal is currently underway. If approved, Council will appoint a community housing provider to develop the sites.  

Vital frontline services will be boosted by more than $1.5 million for Council’s key contracted specialist homelessness services – including Launch Housing’s on-street daily support team, the Salvation Army’s after-hours safe space, and specialist youth homelessness support through Melbourne City Missions Frontyard Youth Services.    

Construction of the City of Melbourne’s landmark Make Room project will be completed in August, which repurposes a Council-owned building at 602 Little Bourke Street into transitional supported accommodation. 

The facility will include 50 studio apartments, housing and homeless services and other wraparound support for those who need it most. Council has secured $16.1 million from the Victorian Government and philanthropic sector for the project to date.          

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, said that Melbourne is in a housing crisis, and that every home that becomes available matters. 

“This draft Budget is about doing what counts and delivering on our promises to the community – delivering truly affordable homes, particularly for key workers,” Mayor Capp said. 

“Returning to a surplus budget in 2024-25 allows future Councils to continue to make important investments that will better people’s lives.     

“More key workers are employed in the City of Melbourne municipality than anywhere else in Victoria. Thousands of these invaluable workers are travelling more than two hours each-way – they deserve affordable housing close to their place of employment. 

“We’re working to transform three Council-owned sites to give more Melburnians a place to call home, while creating new pathways out of homelessness for our most vulnerable community members.”       

City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor, Nicholas Reece, said that as a local government, the City is doing everything it can to increase the number of homes available for residents, students and key workers – with an ambitious affordable housing program with design excellence at its core. 

“We’re planning to turn land the size of ten tennis courts into affordable housing in North and West Melbourne – and we’d love for the community to have their say on our proposal,” Deputy Mayor Reece said. 

City of Melbourne Health, Wellbeing and Belonging portfolio lead Councillor, Dr Olivia Ball, said that access to safe and secure housing is a fundamental human right, and that solving the housing crisis is about more than just building. 

“We know the value of investing in frontline services to help more people at risk of or experiencing homelessness – that’s why we’ll continue to work alongside partners to make a real difference on the ground.” 

Image: Javier Catano Gonzalez/shutterstock.com

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