.- In an effort to alleviate housing problems in the Australian southeast state of Victoria, Catholic and other church charities are seeking approval to become developers and operate housing associations, The Age reports.
The charities say that they want to use prime real estate that they own to develop affordable rental homes for the needy. Up to 300,000 Australians are at risk of losing their homes this year by defaulting on their mortgages. 750,000 households are estimated to struggle to pay food and essential service bills.
Martin North, an analyst with Fujitsu Consulting, linked the housing problems to an expected interest rate increase at the Reserve Bank of Australia.
"This is a problem that is now hitting middle Australia … Rates will go up by another 0.5% to 1% over the year, so people who are in an already fragile position are going to be hard-hit," he said, according to The Age.
The Catholic-affiliated St. Vincent de Paul Society, Unity church-associated UnitingCare Victoria, and the Salvation Army want to develop land owned by their churches, including city properties and large tracts of land. The St. Vincent de Paul Society has land and property in Victoria worth at least $57 million, and hopes to partner with the Catholic Church in Victoria and others to acquire surplus property for development.