The Victorian State Government’s definitions of ‘public housing’, ‘community housing’, ‘social housing’ and ‘affordable housing’ are used consistently by all involved in the Hands Off Public Housing campaign with one clarifying paragraph added to the definition of the government’s definition of ‘affordable housing’ as outlined below.

It is important to state here that even though the Government provides the definitions of these terms it then proceeds to use these terms in both written documents and in delegation meetings interchangeably which is misleading, confusing and inaccurate.

Public Housing

Housing owned and managed by the Director of Housing.  The Government provides public housing to eligible Victorians including those unemployed, on low incomes, migrants, those with a disability, with a mental illness or at risk of homelessness. The Victorian Government  states that “rent will not be more than 25 per cent of your total household income.  Income includes wages and payments from Centrelink and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”  (combined income of all household members 18 years of age or over).  Total household income means the combined income of all household members 18 years of age or over.


Community Housing

Housing owned or managed by community housing agencies for people on low incomes or with special needs, including those eligible for public housing.  Non-government (i.e. private) community housing providers are regulated by the Government in Victoria. Community Housing rents are about 30% or more of total household income of combined gross income.  “If you receive a Centrelink payment, you may be eligible for Commonwealth Rent Assistance. ”

Social Housing

Governments in Australia use ‘social housing’ as an umbrella term that includes both public housing and community housing.  Its provision usually involves some degree of subsidy.

Hands Off Public Housing Campaign believes the term ‘social housing’ is a misleading term when used to describe both community and public housing under the same umbrella.  Social housing was a British scheme used by the Thatcher Government allowing her government to destroy public housing in the UK.

Affordable Housing

Government’s Definition

The Government defines affordable housing as housing that is appropriate for the needs of a range of very low to moderate income households, and priced (whether mortgage repayments or rent) so these households are able to meet their other essential basic living costs.  This is the definition used by the Hands Off Public Housing campaign together with an affordable  housing measure as outlined below.

It is important to note here that ‘affordable housing’ is often used in government documents to refer to both community and social housing, and to mean ‘up to 80% of market rents’.  This is not ‘affordable’ to people on low incomes unless supplemented by a continuous stream of Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

HOPH Definition

Hands Off Public Housing uses the University of Melbourne School of Design affordable housing measure used in its report Transforming Housing: Affordable Housing for All.  This is the  Area Median Income measure which means “housing costs do not exceed “30% of gross household income to rent plus utilities (renters) or 35% gross household income to mortgage, property taxes and insurance, rates and strata fees (owners).”

Hands Off Public Housing restates that affordable housing for Victorians on low incomes is public housing with rents not exceeding 25 per cent of total household incomes

For more information contact:


M: 0484 682 846.

Updated 8 February 2018 from 26 November 2017.