An international housing organisation which has built homes for survivors of disasters including Hurricane Katrina is planning a residential estate in Victoria for bushfire-affected families.
Habitat for Humanity has planning approval to build 25 homes in Yea, in central Victoria, to be provided mostly to Black Saturday survivors.
The not-for-profit organisation works on a home ownership model, whereby families contribute a small deposit to buy houses at market rates and are given 10-year interest free loans.
Mortgage repayments do not exceed 25 per cent of buyers' incomes and families are expected to contribute "sweat equity" by participating in the building of their home, which is constructed by a team of professional builders and Habitat volunteers.
The Yea project will be the largest one of its kind undertaken by Habitat for Humanity in Australia to date.
The organisation is also planning a response to the Queensland floods.
Habitat for Humanity's Victorian executive director Philip Curtis said the professionally-designed homes would primarily be for bushfire-affected families who wanted to continue living in the area, but either could not or did not want go back to their communities.
Some may lack the financial or physical capacity to rebuild themselves while others may have lived in rental properties that had been destroyed and were not being rebuilt, he said.
Yea was not impacted by the 2009 bushfires but lies north of affected communities such as Kinglake.
However, the Rattray Street development, called Yea Heights Estate, will also be open to the wider community.
Mr Curtis said Yea was chosen for its location and land prices.
"To some extent this is driven by the availability of a parcel of land that was affordable in an area that's close to the bushfire-affected region," he said.
"There is an element of 'we're taking a punt' but we think it's a good punt to take."
"We'd like to think that there will be a solid group of families affected by the fires who will be interested in it."
Mr Curtis said about 15 expressions of interest had been received so far, with formal applications for the project to be invited later this year.
Bushfire survivors learnt of the initiative through local newspaper advertisements and their caseworkers, Mr Curtis said.
The organisation held a business breakfast on Thursday as part of its campaign to raise $4.8 million to complete the project, which it hopes to start building by late 2011 or early 2012.
Habitat for Humanity, a Christian-based organisation, has built more than 400,000 houses worldwide since it was founded in 1976.
Source: The Age Domain