Has your local member signed the pledge?

In Homelessness Week, CHIA Vic, along with other members of the Everybody’s Home campaign is urging local and federal members to sign the pledge and take action to address the massive shortfall in social housing supply.

Click here to view the heatmap showing the prevalence of homelessness in your local area.

#HW2020

Social housing push to end homelessness during COVID recovery

More than three quarters of Victorians want the State Government to “build significantly more public and community housing” as part of its response to COVID-19.

According to a new Essential Poll commissioned on the eve of National Homelessness Week, support for more social housing was rock solid in all demographics, regions and age groups, and across the political divide.

This includes support for more social housing from:

84% of Labor voters and 78% of Coalition voters.
76% of women and 78% of men.
77% of Melbourne residents and 79% of people in country Victoria.

Support to build more homes for people on low-incomes and those who are homeless was also consistently strong amongst workers, retirees, parents and those without kids.

A whopping 83% of Victorians agreed the Victorian Government should be doing more to end homelessness, in the poll conducted on behalf of Victoria’s leading housing and social advocacy groups.

Click to read the media release.

Homelessness pandemic support extended

The Victorian Government has announced support for homeless Victorians will be extended during the pandemic and beyond.

A Victorian Government media release states:

‘At the start of this pandemic, we acted swiftly to support over 2000 Victorians off the streets and into accommodation in vacant hotels – because you can’t “stay home” if you don’t have one and you can’t “stay safe” if you have nowhere to wash your hands.

Now, the Victorian Government will help these same Victorians out of homelessness and into their very own homes with the new $150 million From Homelessness to a Home package.

This funding will also see the Government extend current hotel accommodation until at least April next year while these 2,000 Victorians are supported to access stable, long term housing.

We will lease arrange to lease 1,100 properties from the private rental market, providing a permanent home for people once they leave emergency accommodation. This investment will give Victorians a roof over their head in the short-term, while also providing long-term support to help them find their home – and the security, stability and sense of belonging that goes with it.

The first of the Government’s promised 1000 new social housing units are also coming online now and will also support people to transition out of homelessness and into a home.

Each client will have access to flexible support packages to ensure they are getting the tailored help they need while in crisis hotel accommodation – including mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence support for those who need it. That same support will be available to help sustain a tenancy once they move to other long-term housing.

The Private Rental Assistance Program will also gain extra funding to encourage more people leaving emergency hotel accommodation to set up their own private tenancy, helping with the bond and initial rent.

This investment is an opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness – affording more Victorians the security and stability of a home, while also boosting the private rental market.

Funding will be allocated to homelessness agencies in both metropolitan and regional areas – enabling them to deliver a tailored and more responsive service based on the needs of individuals.

The investment builds on nearly $25 million in emergency housing, isolation and coronavirus recovery facilities for people experiencing homelessness, and almost $500 million to upgrade and build new community and public housing across the state.’

 

Launch of older women and homelessness reports

An online event to raise awareness of the issue of older women and homelessness and lobby for government funding for housing and associated services will see the launch of two new reports on the issue:

  1. At Risk: understanding the population size and demographics of older women at risk of homelessness in Australia, commissioned by Social Ventures Australia, written by Dr Debbie Faulkner and Laurence Lester, University of Adelaide.
  2. Older women in the private rental sector: unaffordable, substandard and insecure housing, by Dr Emma Power, University of Western Sydney.

This event will be held on Zoom on Tuesday, 4 August from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Brief presentations will be followed by a Q&A.

Register here.

Community sector survey opens

You’re invited to participate in the Australian Community Sector Survey COVID-19 edition, which will provide an invaluable picture of the effects of the current COVID-19 situation on the community sector, as it allows a longitudinal comparison between the sector in late 2019 and now.

Your response is vital to give a full picture of the impacts of these events on the sector.

The survey will close on 21 July 2020. 

Click here to take part.

Parity open for community housing submissions

Community housing organisations are urged to respond to a Call for Contributions for the upcoming August 2020 “Supporting and Sustaining Tenancies in Community Housing” edition of Parity.

Parity is Council to Homeless Persons national publication, which examines homelessness from personal, local, social and global perspectives.

The August edition will focus on the work taking place across the community housing sector to support and assist tenants maintain their housing, including policies, programs, services and initiatives.

Download details here.

Homelessness inquiry seeks sector submissions

The Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia is seeking submissions from the community housing sector.

Submissions should be made to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs by Friday, 12 June 2020.

The Committee would particularly welcome submissions addressing the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness is Australia, and encourages community groups and others to share their experiences in responding to the pandemic. Those wishing to give evidence are welcome to prepare a short submission addressing the impact of COVID-19, to be followed by a more comprehensive submission later in the inquiry.

Click here for more information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference.

ABC Radio National calls for more social housing

In an article published by the ABC’s Radio National, Peter Mares,the  author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis, echoes our sector’s call for increased investment in social housing. 

In the article entitled, Can Australia build its way out of the coronavirus economic slump, with public housing the priority? Mr Mares writes: ‘Large-scale programs to build social housing aren’t a short-term fix to help the economy recover from the pandemic, they are a long-term investment in a prosperous and fair society.

‘It would take a lot of money. But unless we invest in social housing, we are going to spend a lot of money anyway; we’re just going to spend in different, less effective ways as we condemn a proportion of the population to housing insecurity and rental stress.’

Click here to read the full article.

Social housing boom needed to avoid COVID-19 homelessness spike

The alliance of Victorian housing peaks has called on the State Government to act immediately to avoid a post-COVID homelessness spike, and begin rebuilding the economy.

Victoria faces a looming resurgence of rough sleeping unless the Victorian Government immediately
delivers long-term social housing options for more than 2,000 Victorians without a home who are
staying temporarily in hotels, according to Victoria’s housing and homelessness peak bodies.

The warning of a post-COVID homelessness spike comes as the group launches Make Social Housing
Work — a new blueprint for Victoria to increase its proportion of social housing to the national
average.

Victoria currently trails the nation in social housing, with just 3.2 per cent of all housing stock identified
as public and community housing. The new framework would increase Victoria’s social housing share
to the national average of 4.5 per cent of all housing stock.

To get there, the housing groups calculate the Victorian Government must commit to creating 6,000
new social housing properties each year for ten years, with at least 300 Aboriginal housing units a year.
In addition to keeping people safe and housed after the COVID pandemic, a social housing construction
blitz would provide much needed stimulus to the Victorian economy.

CHIA Victoria CEO Lesley Dredge says, “Building and investing in a stronger social housing safety net
will protect all Victorians who are struggling in the private market.

“With over 80,000 people already on the social housing waitlist in Victoria, people can be waiting to
secure stable housing for years. An additional influx of people who have lost income or their current
homes during this pandemic, will only make matters worse if the Government doesn’t urgently invest
to create more social housing.

Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith says, “We have an opportunity right now to end
homelessness for people who were sleeping rough before the pandemic and have now moved into
temporary accommodation. If the Victorian Government doesn’t urgently deliver more social housing
these vulnerable people will have nowhere to go but back to rough sleeping when restrictions ease.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in hundreds of thousands of Victorians living a new reality
of unemployment, rent stress, and homelessness.

“Victoria spends less on social housing per person than any other state or territory, and years of
underfunding has created a perfect storm for Victorians unable to afford private rental and who find
themselves without a home.

VCOSS CEO Emma King says, “These two thousand people in hotels are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Social housing is a smart investment. It saves lives, saves jobs and saves money in the long-run,” Ms
King said.

The Housing Peaks Alliance comprises: Aboriginal Housing Victoria, the Community Housing Industry
Association (Victoria), the Council to Homeless Persons, Domestic Violence Victoria, Justice Connect,
Tenants Victoria, the Victorian Public Tenants’ Association and the Victorian Council of Social Service.
Unless we move fast to build more social housing, tens of thousands of Victorians risk being homeless
again, or thrust into homelessness for the first time.

The Housing Peaks Alliance is calling on Victorian Government to develop a 10-year social housing
plan. This will not only address the backlog of housing infrastructure and keep up with population
growth but demonstrate a commitment to a stronger, fairer Victoria for future generations.

You can view the full framework here.

Petition calls for ongoing increase to income support payments

Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot has provided a unique insight into the impact embedding the temporary increase in some income support payments would have for those struggling to secure housing.

The snapshot was taken only days before the Commonwealth Government announced a temporary, six-month increase to some income payments in response to the pandemic. It found that only 3 per cent of all properties in Australia advertised for rent were affordable and appropriate for households on government income support payments.

For households on minimum wage it was 22 per cent.

For those receiving the Disability Support Pension, only 245 properties in the whole of the country were affordable and suitable.

Anglicare then recalculated the figures to see how they would be impacted if the government’s Coronavirus Supplement increase to income support was ongoing.

It found couples with children where both parents are receiving Jobseeker Payment would be able to afford more than 11 per cent of properties, up from 1 per cent.

Couples where one parent is receiving minimum wage and the other the Parenting Payment (Partnered) would see a 10 per cent increase.

Singles, including those with children, would see little improvement in affordability. The situation for those on the Disability Support Pension and the Aged Pension was unchanged, as there were no increases to their payments.

Anglicare Australia  is calling for a permanent adoption of the $275 per week increase for Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy and Parenting Payment recipients;  an expansion of the increase to cover people on the Disability Support Pension, Carers and Aged Pensioners with accommodation costs;  an expansion of the Jobseeker Payment to cover migrants, people seeking asylum, and international students; and , the creation of an Independent Social Security Commission to review and set government income payments.

The Everybody’s Home campaign is citing the snapshot results in its push to have  housing included in any stimulus package, permanently increase income support, and to keep up the pressure for long-term action on homelessness.

You can support the campaign by signing the Everybody’s Home petition.

Click here to view Anglicare’s 2020 Rental Affordability snapshot.