In Victoria 400 young people exit state care each year to independent living, and research shows that more than one third of these young people will experience homelessness in the first year. A lack of affordable housing is a major contributing factor. Aboriginal young people are particularly vulnerable and overly represented in out of home care.
The Council to Homeless Persons is amongst an alliance of peak bodies and community organisations that are calling on the new state government to do more to prevent young people who leave state care from becoming homeless.
The Council to Homeless Persons, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare , Berry Street and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency have called on Government to invest an average of $13.8m per year over four years in a guaranteed housing fund and the support that will bridge the gap for young people leaving state care.
CHP CEO Jenny Smith reinforced the point that our responsibility to kids in care doesn’t simply end when they turn 18.
“These kids need ongoing financial support in the same way that those from secure families often continue to receive from parents when they leave home,” she said.
Ms Smith also emphasised that people leaving state care can’t rely on their families for things like rent and bond, which are essential to securing a tenancy in the private market.
“We want to see a guaranteed rent subsidy and appropriate supports for each and every young person leaving state care to independence, so that they don’t end up couch-surfing or cycling in and out of refuges, or worse, sleeping rough.”
The housing guarantee would deliver a maximum $4160 annual payment per young person either as a one-off rent guarantee, or as staggered $80 per week rent payment while they’re finishing studies and unable to work. Tailored support would also help the young person stay housed.
View the full leaving care proposal here.