A leading social housing provider has lodged plans for a new project in Footscray to help tackle the state’s growing affordability crisis.
Unison Housing is proposing a $9.4 million development at 52 Napier Street, on a 935 square-metre site currently occupied by single-storey social housing.
The six-storey, 57-unit proposal is one of the single largest social housing projects flagged for the area in recent years.
A town-planning report submitted with the proposal notes the site presents “a unique opportunity” to increase the availability of housing close to public transport, public open space and a “wide range of community and educational offerings”.
Speaking during Homelessness Week (August 7-13), Unison Housing chief executive Michael Perusco told Star Weekly the project has been driven by the housing affordability crisis in Melbourne.
“One of the key ways of tackling this is to increase the supply of social and affordable housing options,” he said.
“This site is already providing affordable housing and has been for decades. We have got the opportunity to increase the overall supply.”
Unison Housing has been responsible for a number of similar projects, including the 71-unit redevelopment of the Barkly Hotel in Footscray.
Mr Perusco said developing their own properties is the most cost-effective way to house the highest number of people otherwise at risk of homelessness.
He said the problem should also be tackled via an increased focus on inclusionary zoning, in which a set percentage of development is required to be affordable housing.
“It has proven to be successful in other countries and large cities,” he said.
“We certainly wold call upon the state government to do more about that.”
Community group HousingAIM – Affordable, Inclusive Maribyrnong has thrown its support behind the proposal.
Spokeswoman Kate Breen said HousingAIM is concerned about the significant decline in housing affordability across Maribyrnong in recent years and the implications this has for the community.
“Developments like this are very welcome, particularly when they are so well located, and will ensure lower income households have opportunities to benefit from everything Footscray has to offer.”
Feedback on the proposal is due to Maribyrnong Council by August 15.