The longer people experience homelessness, the harder it is to break the cycle and the experience itself becomes more damaging. Investing in services to help people get back in to housing quickly and stay in that housing is critical, yet Victoria is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. At this moment 35,000 Victorian households are currently waiting for public housing, less than 1 percent of rentals are affordable to a person on Newstart, and less than 2 percent are affordable to a single parent with one child. Given that we’re fast approaching the Victorian state election, CHP is calling on all candidates to make the investments in housing and support services to help end homelessness for good. The key investments in CHP’s state election platform are:
- Leaving care housing guarantee
As rental properties get more expensive, many young people are staying at home longer and may call on family members to supplement their rent when they leave. However, young people who leave care when they turn 18 don’t have the luxury of a safety net and sadly nearly half will experience homelessness during their lives. CHP advocates for a fund that would provide up to $4,160 per young person per year to help them secure a rental in the private market until they turn 25, an investment of $16.6 million over 4 years.
- Rapid rehousing
The longer someone experiences homelessness, the more existing problems with health and finances compound. Further, the connections that help people stay in housing become weaker. Rapid rehousing focuses on getting people into permanent housing (social or private) as quickly as possible. CHP’s plan would help more than 5,000 families and individuals who move through crisis accommodation or stay temporarily with family/friends each year, enter the private rental market. This would be supplemented with time-limited rental subsidies over three to six months that could be tapered over a longer period if needed. This program would cost $118 million over 4 years.
- Permanent supportive housing (PSH)
Permanent supportive housing provides long term, affordable housing complemented by support services to people who have experienced long term homelessness and have complex health needs. International and local evidence shows that PSH saves governments money by reducing demands on hospitals, emergency services and the justice system. CHP’s plan would provide housing and support to 400 people over four years, including the construction of 200 new social housing properties and the conversion of 200 transitional housing properties to long term housing stock. This program would cost $54 million over 4 years.
- An affordable housing strategy
Every part of a housing system affects the ability of low income households to secure a tenancy. However, Victoria doesn’t have an overarching affordable housing plan and as housing pressures increase, this is more important than ever. CHP has worked with six Victorian peaks to produce a plan ‘Making Social Housing Work’ that includes:
- The creation of 800 new social housing properties every year through an annual investment of $200 million;
- The transfer of some public housing stock to community housing; and
- Reforms to public housing management and a new waiting list system.
At a cost of $216 million over four years in support services and further investments in affordable housing, the Victorian government could end homelessness for good. If this sounds like a lot of money, consider the fact that the cost of homelessness can exceed $1 million per individual over a life time. When faced with that alternative, this investment makes both economic and social sense. Full details of CHP’s state election platform can be found here.
We’ve created a State election 2014 page which provides some ideas on how you can support the ideas in CHP’s election platform, including template letters to send to candidates, fact sheets about homelessness in your local electorate and other useful info.