$109m of State homelessness funding announced, but Federal funding impasse continues

On 12 November the Victorian Government announced $109 million of new homelessness funding in Victoria over the coming five years. CHP welcomed this investment, which focusses resources on critical areas that CHP and members have long identified as priorities.

We’ve examined the announcement to better understand how the specific initiatives will complement, or build on, existing Specialist Homelessness Services, and see which program lines are extensions of current programs that are due to expire, and which are entirely new initiatives.

In this post, we have contextualised how these new commitments fit within the series of positive announcements that have been made in 2016:

The 12 November announcements fall into the following areas:

Rapid rehousing:

  • Funds for the head leasing of up to 124 properties to facilitate the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness.
  • This extends for two years the head leasing component of a one-year Housing Blitz funding initiative that provided $50 million for rapid housing assistance for 184 new social housing properties as a first stage and head leasing for up to 130 dwellings (tendered in June).
  • This also adds to the resources for rapid rehousing announced on 11 November of $24 million to increase the supply of short-term housing for homeless Victorians to purchase 94 homes and lease 79 properties.

Housing subsidy for young people leaving care:

  • $10.1 million over four years for housing assistance for young people leaving out-of-home care or youth justice up until the age of 21. These would be available for a range of housing options such as continuation of board with a foster carer, rent subsidy, or head leasing.

Rough sleeping responses:

  • Increased assertive outreach capacity to people sleeping rough and living in unsuitable accommodation such as rooming houses. This initiative will allow assertive outreach in inner Melbourne to continue over five years, as well as enable new assertive outreach capacity to be created in other rough sleeping hotspots in metropolitan and suburban Melbourne and regional areas.
  • Provision of two-year flexible support packages for 50 people who have experienced chronic homelessness each year to help them transition to stable and sustainable housing. This will include targeting up to 10 packages to veterans who are sleeping rough. This is new resourcing to provide the ongoing support necessary to sustain housing for people sleeping rough.

Expansion of Initial Assessment and Planning capacity in Victorian prisons

  • Approximately 6,000 people leave prisons each year. There are currently eight IAP workers in Victorian prisons. This resourcing will increase this capacity by a further seven workers.

Crisis accommodation

  • $25 million capital to invest in community sector-led accommodation projects providing additional and upgraded crisis and longer term accommodation options for people experiencing homelessness. This funding is in addition to the initiatives to upgrade and expand crisis accommodation announced as part of the Housing Blitz, which included $25 million for four projects: the redevelopment of Ozanam House, new youth refuges in the city and Melton, and the McCauley Community Services Picket Street development for women who have experienced homelessness.
  • Investment in specialist therapeutic staff in Victoria’s congregate crisis accommodation facilities to provide onsite support with drug and alcohol issues, mental illness, and improving people’s pathways to universal and other targeted services, such as alcohol and other drug services.

Supportive housing

  • New accommodation with targeted support services in the west of Melbourne
  • $13 million for a new supportive housing facility comprising up to 30 units for women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Melbourne’s north
  • Providing accommodation for people with a severe mental illness at two sites, one of which will be in Frankston.

Where to from here:

These initiatives address some critical gaps and areas of pressing need for homelessness services for which Council to Homeless Persons and many members have advocated.
CHP will continue to call for resources to address gaps that are still outstanding, including the investment needed in social and other affordable housing, in capacity to provide permanent support for people with the most complex needs, and to respond appropriately to the demand pressure at access points.
We will also continue to campaign for the Federal Government to commit to the continuation of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, which expires in June 2017.
The $115 million p.a. of Federal funding, matched by the states, represents a third of all homelessness funding annually. In Victoria, $23 million of funding will be lost if the NPAH is not extended beyond 30 June.
The NPAH campaign continues to gather speed, with two major national events in the last fortnight. A summit in Sydney on 4 November brought together 30 homelessness CEOs and policy makers to bring the issues to a meeting of Homelessness and Housing Ministers, and on 9 November, a petition of 40,000 signatures was delivered in Canberra.
Stay tuned for more news about how you can get involved in the NPAH campaign. There are still a handful of places available for the NPAH Campaigning workshop on 7 December.