Most public housing in Australia is a monument to a different era, a time when governments built houses, just as they would schools and hospitals. Inconceivable to anyone born in the last 40 years, there was a period when the government was hungry for land to build things people could live in, not just drive on.
In Melbourne, dozens of beige concrete tower blocks erected on land acquired across the inner city are the most recognisable markers of this period – still known as commission flats, after the long defunct Housing Commission that had the job of building them. Less quintessential but more numerous are the low rise brick villages known as “walk up” estates. And there are houses, about 25,000 of them, often grouped in small pockets around the suburbs and in some regional towns.
All told, Victoria’s public housing stock numbers about 65,000. Today, it is ageing (60 percent is more than 30 years old) and often in poor condition (“seriously deteriorating” according to the Victorian auditor-general).
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