Social and affordable housing

What is affordable housing?

A common measure of affordable housing is where people with low incomes spend 30% or less on housing costs. Otherwise households are in 'housing stress', and may be unable to meet their remaining costs such as utilities, food, education, and transport.

Based on a commitment to housing as a fundamental human right, we support the supply of affordable housing in a number of ways:
  • Land use planning procedures
  • Using assets and funds to help build affordable housing
  • Advocating to Federal and State governments to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Where can I find affordable housing?

The State Government housing website has a list of affordable housing options and is a good place to start looking. Types of affordable housing are:

Social housing (housing for people on low incomes with rents regulated by government) which includes

  • Community housing owned and managed by not for profit organisations (housing providers) and rented to low income households for around 30% of income. There are community housing properties across Victoria.
  • Public housing owned and managed by the Victorian Office of Housing. Public housing rents are around 25% of income depending on circumstances. The waiting list for public housing in Victoria is around 40,000 people. However if you are homeless, are escaping domestic violence, have a disability or special housing needs, you may get priority access
  • You can apply for social housing online or use a paper application. For more information visit, or an Office of Housing office, or you can apply through a support agency
  • Rooming Houses are privately owned and managed rental accommodation, where residents usually share facilities and have exclusive use only of their room. Standards and prices vary greatly. There is a Public Register of Rooming Houses on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
  • Private rental housing is usually listed with real estate agencies. Rents are based on location, size and quality, and are rarely affordable in Yarra and across inner Melbourne

Yarra City Council's housing policies

Yarra is developing a Housing Strategy to set out how we plan to manage housing growth across the municipality through land use planning and functions.

Yarra is also developing a Social and Community Housing Policy to guide our responses to demand as local housing costs rise. A diverse population requires a diversity of housing available at prices that can be afforded by households with modest or low incomes. Diversity has been the foundation upon which our successful, sustainable and vibrant community has been built. Other documents and initiatives related to social and community housing issues include:
  • the Council Plan 2013-2017 which advocates for increased social and affordable housing in Yarra, including a minimum of 5% of apartments designed to be wheelchair accessible and comply with DDA standards. A new Council Plan will be completed in 2017.
  • Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP), a collaborative partnership between the Cities of Yarra, Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Maribyrnong. The current IMAP 2016-2026 includes a goal of new affordable housing planning controls and targets, including "opt-in" Inclusionary Zoning Amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions to enable local government to amend planning schemes to establish mandatory inclusionary zoning.


Supporting social housing

We recognise the need for affordable housing options for people with modest or low incomes. 
We have expressed our commitment to maintain and support a socially, economically and culturally diverse community. We support affordable housing in Yarra by providing funding to support to the community housing sector, pursuing affordable housing outcomes at major development sites and by advocating to state and commonwealth governments. 
From 2009 – 2012, we established the Yarra Affordable Rental Housing Development Fund as a mechanism to allocate funding ($200,000 per annum) to registered housing associations to develop affordable rental housing locally. This fund also allowed us to access then-available commonwealth and state government affordable housing growth funds (e.g. Australian Government’s Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan, etc.). 
Through this fund, Yarra Community Housing (now known as Unison) delivered 20 affordable housing units, with 15 at Gertrude Street, Fitzroy and 5 units at Flockhart Street, Abbotsford. We also granted Yarra Community Housing a 40 year lease of the council-owned building at 239 Brunswick Street to facilitate its redevelopment as community housing. This 4-storey building was transformed into 14 affordable studio-apartments. 
From 2004-2011, rates on properties owned by accredited housing associations were waived. In late 2011, this rate waiver superseded by a rate rebate of $130 per property (equivalent to the pensioner rebate). In 2013, the rate rebate was replaced by the Yarra Affordable Housing Fund (YAHF) within the broader Council Community Grants Program, with $52,000 provided annually to support local affordable housing initiatives.