The unprecedented demand for housing in regional Victoria has created various challenges for Northern Grampians Shire Council.
Regional Australia Institute published a report in February that revealed one in five city residents were eager to move to the regions, with more than half planning to do so in the next 12 months.
The report showed that most of those seeking reprieve from the city lifestyle had wanted to do so before COVID-19.
For many, the pandemic had brought their plans forward and caused the current influx to regional towns such as Stawell, Halls Gap, and Great Western.
Northern Grampians Shire mayor Murray Emerson said it was crucial for people to move to the region to have housing options available to them.
"We need to attract more people with the skills and talents needed to sustain and grow our economy and communities," he said.
"Northern Grampians Draft Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, 2021-31 identified housing challenges as a critical driver behind businesses being unable to secure staff.
"A number of businesses in our shire are operating below capacity due to staff shortages. Addressing the housing issues is key to helping unlock the existing economic potential that exists in our economy."
A Grampians Community Health spokesperson said the healthcare provider had witnessed an increase in people struggling with the housing market.
"Availability of suitable housing has decreased. We are seeing more people who have stable incomes/employment needing support as well as those who are unemployed," they said.
But they also noted COVID-19 had not increased the use of their Homelessness Services.
"Grampians Community Health has not observed changes in the number of people accessing our programs," they said.
"There has been less housing crisis due to eviction laws during COVID. Many tenants were supported to stay in the home, prior COVID they would have faced eviction."
Mr Emerson said housing affordability was another key issue council was aiming to address.
"Council is understandably concerned about the rising cost of housing in the Northern Grampians Shire," he said.
"The shire has a lack of quality housing stock in a time where attraction to living in regional areas of Victoria has increased, which is making things worse for our residents who cannot purchase a house of their own. We are committed to doing all we can to find solutions and help where we can."
"The Victorian Government is developing a 10-year strategy for social and affordable housing in Victoria to assist with providing access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing.
"We encourage our community members to let the Victorian Government know their thoughts on access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing."
People can do so by heading to engage.vic.gov.au/ten-year-social-and-affordable-housing-strategy-victoria.
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