Affordable housing needed to break the link between family violence and homelessness

The link between family violence and homelessness is complicated, but strong. Not only is it the single biggest cause of homelessness due to women and children fleeing violence, but recent evidence shows that 90 percent of young people experiencing homelessness have witnessed family violence in the past, not to mention the huge numbers of people who have been homeless long term who experienced violence as children. As a result CHP joined with  129 organisations to produce a joint submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence, highlighting the role that housing affordability plays in family violence.

The joint submission illustrated how the current lack of affordable housing in Victoria is affecting people who are experiencing family violence:

  1. It deters victims from leaving violent relationships;
  2. It pushes victims into homelessness;
  3. It can make perpetrators more isolate and increase the risk of repeated or escalated violence

The joint submission called on the State Government to invest in the following solutions:

  1. Improve measures to sustain tenancies and prevent homelessness for women who can safely stay in their housing;
  2. Establishing a rapid re-housing program to assist women and children escaping family violence to be quickly rehoused with appropriate supports;
  3. Improving affordable housing pathways for perpetrators to ensure they stay engaged with relevant supports;
  4. Develop a long-term affordable housing strategy to address the soaring public housing waitlist and increasing unaffordability of private rental for low income earners

With such a strong relationship between family violence and homelessness, all 129 organisations agree that addressing the shortage of affordable housing must be a focus for the Commission. CHP also filed a more detailed submission  with recommendations that focused on ways to improve the specialist homelessness service system, measures to reduce homelessness as a result of family violence and accommodation for men who use violence. CHP’s submission  can be viewed in full on our website.

The Victorian Government also produced a submission to the Royal Commission – you can read the State Government’s concerns here.