EASTERN suburbs families are being forced to wait years on public housing waiting lists, a local expert says.
During this time they are living in unsound and sometimes dangerous places while their application is processed.
General manager of homelessness services at UnitingCare Harrison, Mark Dixon, said public housing waiting lists had always been an issue that was now only intensifying.
"In the waiting process a lot [of families] are being forced to live in unregistered and unsafe rooming houses. What we're concerned about is that many of these places house people exiting prison, mental institutes etcetera, and people can leave these places more damaged than when they entered."
State government figures show that the eastern metropolitan region public housing waiting lists rose by 1.1 per cent [49 applicants] in the December quarter.
Public housing allows low income families to live in publicly funded housing where rent is capped at a fixed percentage of income.
Mr Dixon said the number of applicants at the Ringwood housing office — 2113 — was likely to be much higher in reality.
"While waiting for housing many people turn to family members, cars, tents, just wherever they can. And they become transient. The problem is when they do this many don't tell the department their new address, and thus can't be put on the waiting lists. So we suspect [the number] is bigger than current waiting lists indicate.
"My concern is that we need to substantially grow our stock [properties] on the ground. It comes down to dollars and [public housing] properties. That will address homelessness."
State Housing Minister Wendy Lovell said that despite the rise, the government had lowered the statewide waiting list by 4000 compared with the previous Labor government.
However, shadow housing minister Richard Wynne said the initial reduction in the waiting list was because the federal government invested in housing, but that funding had ended.
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