14 April 2019
4,000 people a year could be at risk of homelessness, many of them victim-survivors of family violence, if the Victorian Government does not continue to fund the Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) in the state budget.
Victoria’s peak body for homelessness, Council to Homeless Persons, is calling on the state government to commit to funding the program rather than put already-vulnerable women and children at even more risk, because they will have to choose between going homeless or returning to their abuser.
The PRAP was expanded in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which recommended action to support victims of family violence to gain stable housing as quickly as possible.
Research this month from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Housing outcomes after domestic and family violence, shows that where safe, secure and affordable housing is not available, women may decide to return to a violent relationship, because they see this as a safer option.
The PRAP program helps people who are at risk of losing their private rental tenancy or who need some help to quickly gain a new tenancy.
This kind of ‘rapid-rehousing’ means families can quickly re-establish their lives after a crisis, preventing the harm caused by extended homelessness.
The PRAP program currently helps around 4,000 people a year, the majority of whom are escaping family violence.
The PRAP is currently only funded to June 2019, but achieves the lowest cost to government per unit of accommodation as was funded as part of the 2016 $152 million Family Violence Housing Blitz.
“With more women and children escaping family violence and needing homelessness services every day, we simply can’t afford to lose this highly effective program,” CHP CEO Jenny Smith said.
“The women and children who access this service are vulnerable and it is inappropriate to be housing them in emergency accommodation options, like rooming houses or motels.”
The number of Victorian women seeking homelessness assistance due to family violence has increased 70 per cent in the past four years.
In 2016-17, 25,755 women (aged 15+) approached homelessness services due to family violence, up from 15,090 in 2012-13.
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