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In the third edition of our quarterly 'Be heard!' newsletter for 2021, we continue to bring our 2018-2021 Plan of Action to life with stories about how we:

This month we shine a spotlight on the work we are doing to make sure the social housing system is fairer and better protects our community.
A Broken Regulatory System — Advocating for Housing Reform

Recognising the fundamental importance of a home to the dignity and wellbeing of a person, housing has always been a significant part of IMCL's policy and law reform work. There has never been a more important time than now to focus our advocacy as the Victorian government commences a record investment in social housing which will see increasing numbers of Victorians living in community housing, and as it undertakes a critical review of social housing regulation.

Community housing providers are a growing and integral part of the social housing system in Victoria and support some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Yet, a two-tiered regulatory system means that the tenants allocated to community housing have fewer rights and are usually worse off than those in public housing. And, unlike public housing, there is no clear requirement that community housing providers need to consider the human rights of tenants in their decision-making. As people are now allocated to either public or community housing from the same waiting list - the Social Housing Register - it is clear that these differences are unfair and untenable. 

To address these systemic issues, we are advocating for a fair housing system with:
  • consistent human rights for everyone living in social housing, including clear, consistent and enforceable human rights for those tenants in community housing; and
  • improved protections for social housing renters, ensuring that all tenants have access to safe, suitable, secure and affordable homes.
If this was the case, our client Brent could access stable housing that accommodates all aspects of his disability, and community housing providers would be obliged to address issues like those faced by clients Jonathon and Jack. Instead, Brent was evicted and at risk of homelessness, while Jonathon and Jack have no choice but to remain in apartments that do not meet their most basic needs.
'Lack of housing is a real problem particularly for people with dual disabilities and we are just skirting around the edges of solving that... the mental health system alongside the housing sector isn't meeting housing needs.' - Brent's Social Worker

Read more about our lead role in collaborating with the community sector to ensure reforms of social housing regulation are informed by the experience of renters they exist for, and more about our client stories below. 
The Voices of Our Clients

One thing we have all learnt during the pandemic is that having a place to call home means so much more than just a roof over our heads. Everyone needs a home that is safe, suitable, secure and affordable - a place where they and their family can thrive.

But many of our clients in community housing, like Jonathon, Brent and Jack, feel let down by the system. Their stories show that if you're on the Victorian housing waitlist and you end up in community housing, you'll have fewer rights.

As a wheelchair user, Jonathon thought that his accessibility needs would be met when he moved into a community housing apartment specifically catering for those with disabilities. But when he needed reasonable modifications made to his home, his CHP refused and Jonathon had no avenues for appeal. 

Since sustaining an acquired brain injury at the age of 16, Brent has struggled to access stable housing for over 30 years. When he was able to secure a community housing property, Brent finally had a place to call home and was stable enough to work effectively with his disability care team. However, despite the efforts of our tenancy lawyers, Brent was evicted for behaviour associated with his disability, over which he has limited control. 

An affordable and hygienic home is a basic need, but it's something that hasn't been guaranteed for Jack in his community housing apartment. We've helped Jack over many years with continuous building-wide pest infestations that have been improperly managed by his housing provider, as well as excessive, unlawful rent charges.

You can read more about Jonathon, Brent and Jack on our website. 
Stay tuned for our next quarterly instalment! You can read previous editions on our website.
You are receiving this email because you are connected to the work of Inner Melbourne Community Legal (formerly North Melbourne Legal Service) as an industry colleague, partner organisation, donor, general supporter.

Our mailing address is:
Inner Melbourne Community Legal Centre
2/508 Queensberry St
North Melbourne, Victoria 3051

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© 2021 Inner Melbourne Community Legal Inc. Registration Number: A0014248J

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