Nominations now open for Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards

The biennial Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards celebrate the exceptional efforts of workers, consumers and organisations within the homelessness sector.

They are an opportunity to recognise the incredible individuals, programs and organisations dedicated to ending homelessness in Victoria.

The awards cover seven categories:

Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Children and families
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Young people
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Adults
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Diverse groups
The Leading Practitioner award
The Consumer Achievement Award
The Beth Thomson Lifetime Achievement Award

Applications close Sunday 25 August

Nominate here.

WPI tenant

Time for tax deductable donations…

Women’s Property Initiative is calling for tax deductible donations before June 30.

Two out of every three people seeking help for homelessness in Australia are women. Our crisis services are overwhelmed, which means that many of our most vulnerable can’t get help when they need it. More than 150 women were turned away from homelessness services every day in 2017/18. The pressure on these services is worsened by a chronic shortage of long-term, affordable homes to allow women to move on from crisis accommodation. For these women, a safe and secure home where they can rebuild their lives would be a dream come true.

Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI) currently provides permanent, secure and affordable homes for more than 220 women and children. They tell us every day about the difference these homes have made in their lives. Our tenants include older women, single mothers with children and younger women. All of them have faced significant life challenges and wondered if they would ever find stability.

Medical condition

Rebekah is one of these women. Her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a severe medical condition as a teenager. She was forced to move from Wodonga to Melbourne with her Mum, who is also her carer, to be closer to specialised medical treatment.

They had to give up a lot, including being close to family and friends. Finding somewhere secure to live on a low income was almost impossible. When looking for affordable housing they experienced discrimination – most landlords wouldn’t even consider them. Panic set in, knowing that they couldn’t stay with the relative who was providing them with shelter for much longer.

Mental health

“It really started to play havoc with my mental state and impacted my health. I couldn’t work because of my condition and the rents were enormous. I never thought I would be in that position – I thought I was going to be a doctor! We would never have moved here without being financially secure but we had no choice.”

Rebekah cried when we told her that she could move in to a WPI apartment close to the hospital where she is treated.

Stability

“This beautiful apartment is not something we thought we would ever live in. I can’t go out much, so my home environment is really important. It’s secure and bright and comfortable. But the stability is the best thing. My stress levels have dropped and my health is so much better. Mum is happier, and we are a lot closer because of it.”

This is a new beginning for Rebekah, a chance to overcome her illness and get back to the life she always imagined. Even though she still needs regular treatment, she’s started a TAFE Animal Studies course and can’t wait to be working, productive and independent.

“It actually seems possible now. This home has really changed my life. ”

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help us provide a lot more new beginnings.

Donate now

RMIT launches new NFP property course

RMIT has created a new not-for-profit property course that can be studied as a short course or as a post-graduate elective.

The course, Property in the not-for-profit (NFP) Sector, is targeted at NFP managers and board members who are seeking to learn about property in the NFP sector, and for
property professionals wanting to understand the NFP sector.

The course objectives are to develop your critical understanding of: the purpose, diversity and value of NFP organisations; the role; and the challenges faced by NFP organisations.

Download the course flyer for more information or email Andrea Sharam.

 

Few social housing tenants are lonely

Older social housing tenants are far less lonely than those in private rental, according to an article published in The Conversation.

The article, by Research Professor, University of Technology Sydney Alan Morris and Research Associate, University of Technology Sydney, Andrea Verasco states many older private renters have little disposal income, because the cost of housing uses up much of their income. They also live with the constant possibility that they may be asked to vacate their accommodation. Their limited budgets mean they often end up living in a poorly located property. These features, individually or in combination, create fertile ground for anxiety and loneliness.

Their dire financial situation was often an obstacle to social activities. One interviewee told of how she had to choose between food or breaking her isolation by using public transport.

‘In sharp contrast, only a small proportion of the social housing tenants interviewed said they were lonely. Almost all were adamant they did not experience loneliness and felt they had strong social ties. Their affordable rent, security of tenure, long-term residence and having neighbours in a similar position meant they could socialise and were not beset by anxiety.’

Read the full article here.

 

Social and affordable housing project funding opens

Homes for Homes has opened a funding round for social and affordable housing projects, with up to $140,000 available in Victoria.

Homes for Homes CEO Steven Persson says the organisation will take a flexible approach to the projects it supports.

Housing providers know who is experiencing homelessness and housing stress in their area of operation, and what their needs are, Mr Persson ‘says.

We are keen to fund high-impact projects and are open to all proposals from community housing providers and property developers. Any organisation that can create social and affordable housing is encouraged to apply.

This funding round marks the second time Homes for Homes has released funds in Victoria and the ACT.

Last year, Homes for Homes awarded $500,000 to five organisations, supporting projects ranging from long-term accommodation for matched pairs of older women stuck in the unaffordable private rental market to a six-star energy rated home for a young family in housing stress.

‘Australia is facing a housing crisis, with almost 200,000 households on the waitlist for social housing. Thankfully there is a huge appetite to solve this problem,’Mr Persson says.

With overwhelming support from developers, community, business and government, Homes for Homes is on track to generate over $1 billion over the next 30 years. This is a long-term generational solution that works.

Applications close on 5 July 2019.

Applications will be assessed by an expert, industry-based advisory group.

Recipients are expected to be announced later in the year.

See Homes for Homes for details.

About Homes for Homes

 Homes for Homes, established by The Big Issue, tackles Australia’s chronic shortage of 200,000 social and affordable homes by raising money through donations from property sales.

Homeowners register with Homes for Homes, agreeing to donate 0.1 per cent of their property’s sale price to the initiative at the time of sale (for example, a $500,000 sale results in a $500 donation).

Once a house is registered with Homes for Homes, the legal mechanism stays on the property title, prompting a donation each time the property is sold in the future.

Under the Homes for Homes model, money raised in each state or territory is used to support housing projects in that state or territory.

Sacred heart launches mid-year appeal

Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) has launched its mid-year appeal, recounting the story of Nat*, who found herself experiencing homelessness before being connected to services at the Women’s House.

The appeal calls attention to Nat’s difficult situation after arriving in Australia from Indonesia, when her relationship turned violent, a common cause of homelessness in Australia.

After summoning the courage to flee the violent marriage, Nat spent two years couch-surfing and working casually, earning just $100 a week. Without any form of a support network, professional skills and speaking little English, Nat could not afford private housing and before long, she was experiencing homelessness.

“I was alone and thought to myself if something happened to me, who is going to look for me? Who is going to care?” Nat says.

“I felt so sad. I had no one. I was homeless.”

The appeal explains how Nat came to even more dire straits when she was hit by a speeding car.

“I felt like, ‘why are all these bad things happening to me?’ Everything was happening at once.”

Nat eventually secured short-term, ‘crisis’ accommodation with SHM, where her spirits and hopes were nurtured as her body recovered. During this time, she was referred to SHM’s Women’s House, which she says was a pivotal moment in her life, as she was able to turn her life around.

“This is what help looks like. The great women here at the Women’s House… They told me whatever support I needed I would find it here. I went, felt comfortable and met a lot of great people,” she says.

The Women’s House obtained funds that would allow Nat to study English and Community Services. Nat is now fluent in English and passed her Certificate IV in Community Services, which she wants to use to help other women with a similar experience to hers. She is in transitional housing with Launch Housing, and looks forward to moving into a share flat with friends in the future.

The 2016 Census revealed the person most likely to walk into a homelessness service is a woman aged 24-34, often with a child by her side. In Victoria alone, statistics reflect that of the 24,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, over 60 per cent are women.

Complex issue

Homelessness is a complex issue, but this is further complicated for women due to issues such as family violence, assault, financial inequality, and gendered role pressures.

Women are two and a half times more likely to retire in poverty than men as a result of the gender pay gap (15.3 per cent in Australia according to the 2016 Census), and a higher incidence of part-time work combined with extended periods out of the workforce.

Nat has made many friends at the Women’s House and still visits. It has given her a new lease of life; she likes to socialise, relax and take part in the weekly pottery classes.

“I can love myself more now. I feel the sun on my skin and it feels so beautiful! I come to the Women’s House and I can now enjoy my surroundings like never before,” she says.

The Women’s House offers various services for women with housing, physical and mental health concerns, substance use issues, family violence, financial and legal matters, and social and life skills, to meet the growing demand.

Women in our community need the safety of the Women’s House. It will cost SHM $613,540 to run the Women’s House this year. After receiving some support from the State Government, SHM needs $294,541 before 30 June to keep the doors of the Women’s House open.

Donations to the SHM winter appeal will ensure women like Nat continue to receive the support they need to exit homelessness and get a second chance at living a fulfilling life.

To donate call 1800 443 278 or visit: sacredheartmission.org/helpwomen

Treasurer commits to further housing initiatives

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has committed to announcing more initiatives to increase social housing stock this year, that will be in addition to the $209 million set aside for more public housing in this week’s budget.

Speaking at the VCOSS post-budget breakfast briefing, Mr Pallas admitted the government had ‘dropped the ball’ on social housing in the 1970s but that he is ‘personally passionate’ about improving the situation.

‘The fact that we have put a little over $200 million into providing more social and public housing in this budget is really a start, but there’s a lot more to do,’ Mr Pallas says.
The government is continuing to work on the Homes for Victorians initiatives, announced 18 months ago, and intends to do more, he says.

‘Our intention would be to augment that again in the near future…There will be more this year.

‘We have been working on it for quite some time. We have been looking at the offerings we have had from number of representatives in the community sector who are working closely with financiers and the State Government.

Mr Pallas says the government has been evaluating various models to improve the value and number of public and community housing properties against the government’s values and expectations.

‘My department is working to essentially reduce the range of offerings that we are interested in so we can get the community to focus in on those areas that the government is prepared to partner with to deliver more stock into the future.’

Tenancy worker role at PMCH

Prahran Malvern Community Housing (PMCH) is seeking a Tenancy Worker, based in South Yarra, but with travel required to their properties.

The role will involve the effective and efficient administration of social housing properties managed by PMCH under leasing arrangements with the Department of Health and Human Services and a variety of interagency protocol arrangements.

The tenancy worker establishes new tenancies/residencies and aims to sustain existing tenancies/residencies, assisting tenants to keep their homes by linking them with people and services in their community.

The position encompasses management of maintenance which includes; arranging maintenance requirements to be carried out, liaison with maintenance providers and monitoring & quality control.

Download more information on the role.

Download the position description.

For further information, contact Pamela Morrison on 03 9826 5194 or  email jain.hall@pmch.org.au

Applications close on July 11, 2019.

Making sure we deliver for all Victorians

The CEO of Victoria’s peak body for community housing has called on the State Government to continue to deliver a strong economy by directing some of its surplus to ensuring vulnerable Victorians have somewhere safe to call home.

Lesley Dredge says the government is rightly proud of its efforts that have led to Victoria becoming the nation’s powerhouse, leading the country with jobs, infrastructure investment and delivering a projected average $3.4 billion surplus over the next four years.

However, research shows investing in social and affordable housing as vital infrastructure provides significant economic benefits. City Futures Research Centre’s Professor Duncan Maclennan has found spending on affordable housing delivers significant savings in transport costs and increases productivity.

‘These results serve to reinforce the fact that there are no downsides to increased funding for social and affordable housing and that no one, particularly in a state as prosperous as Victoria, should be forced to live in fear on the streets or couch surf,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘Whilst it’s great that the budget is following through on the government’s pledge to build an additional 1,000 public housing dwellings, the need is much greater.

‘Our research shows that 3,000 new properties are needed each year for the next 10 years just to house those on the priority waitlist, which are households that are homeless, are escaping family violence, or have significant support needs.

‘The gap between what is needed, and what is being delivered, becomes even more stark at this time of year, with thousands of homeless Victorians being particularly vulnerable during long, cold nights sleeping rough,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘No Victorian should be forced to sleep in a park or laneway; we have the resources to house them, and they should be invested.

‘The government has titled this year’s budget, Delivering for all Victorians. We call on it to dip into the surplus to invest in safe and affordable housing for the benefit of all Victorians and the state as a whole.’

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