Victoria is spending billions on affordable housing, but it isn’t keeping up with demand

Before moving into public housing, Geoffrey Lennie was forced to change homes 43 times in 40 years. 

A combination of steady rent increases, landlords selling their homes, and the stigma he encountered when he was on a disability pension, forced him to repeatedly navigate the “slaughterhouse” of Melbourne’s private rental market.

“I remember filling out an application for a rental. I took a few steps from the counter to ask a bloke something, and I watched the bloke I was just talking to already dropping my application in the bin,” Mr Lennie said.

A drone picture showing part of Richmond, with high-rise public housing towers in the foreground and a city skyline behind.
More than 2,000 people live in the Richmond high-rise public housing towers.(Supplied: Victorian government)

After he eventually applied for public housing, Mr Lennie would still spend another seven years on the waitlist, before finally finding a place to call home in Seaford in Melbourne’s south-east.

He says having a permanent home has changed his life.

“I’m no longer going to the doctor so much, my health has improved enormously, and I’m no longer living on the edge of anxiety,” Mr Lennie said.

“I’m able to pay for electricity, I’m able to pay all the bills out of my pension — and I have enough left over to live a civilised life.”

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