By Alesha Capone
Almost two hundred public housing tenants have moved to the western and northern suburbs under a program to relocate those considered at “greatest risk from coronavirus” due to living in high-density buildings in inner Melbourne.
The state government announced the $31.7 million Tower Relocation Program last year, which offers public housing tenants at sites including Flemington the chance to move into a private rental property.
The program offered 420 households in Melbourne’s high-rise towers, including residents with a medical condition and large families, the opportunity to move into a privately-leased property in the northern or western suburbs for up to two years before returning to a permanent public housing property.
A total of 260 tenants registered interest in the program and 180 people have been matched to a suitable property. Homes Victoria, which manages the state’s social housing system, implemented the relocation program.
A Homes Victoria spokesperson said the authority worked with households to match their needs and location preferences with available private rental properties.
“Where a match was made, residents were assisted to relocate,” the spokesperson said.
“We are continuing to look at other long-term solutions for households where a suitable property on the private market could not be found.”
Homes Victoria looked at more than 800 properties in its search for new homes for the tenants.
Housing Minister Richard Wynne said the Tower Relocation Program was operating alongside health support for tenants.
“It’s part of our ongoing work to keep high-rise public housing tenants safe and supported during the pandemic,” he said.
The Victorian Public Tenants’ Association (VPTA) last year welcomed the announcement of the Tower Relocation Program, saying it hoped the initiative would improve living conditions for residents.
The VPTA said that for “many years” families living in public housing have been “cramped into very small living quarters around the state, and particularly in the high-rise towers”.
“We hope that the Tower Relocation Program will quickly begin to address some of these issues,” the association said.