CHP eNews 2017
6 April 2017
An alternative to anti-homelessness bylaws
The surge in homelessness in recent years has seen local governments across Victoria urged to respond to the issue. The City of Melbourne’s proposed homeless ban is misguided, but many municipalities are struggling to know what they can do to have a positive effect.
The CEOs of 60 homelessness, housing and legal organisations have jointly released a framework outlining 14 clear steps the City of Melbourne could adopt instead of introducing new laws. This provides a guide to Melbourne, and potentially other municipalities of positive measures to address homelessness, and the associated concerns of local governments.
When homelessness proliferates, Councils experience the tension of having a range of stakeholders whose best interests may compete. However the framework makes it clear: punishing people for experiencing homelessness doesn’t decrease homelessness. Indeed, it will make engaging those experiencing homelessness that much harder, and lead to longer episodes of homelessness.
Youth Homelessness Matters Day
Youth Homelessness Matters Day was held on 5 April. One in three people experiencing homelessness is under 25 years of age. With different support needs from other age cohorts and limited finances, youth homelessness can be particularly complex.
A perfect storm of increasing reporting of family violence, decreasing housing affordability for families with kids, a pitifully low Youth Allowance and rising youth unemployment is contributing to the crisis levels of homelessness we’re seeing amongst our youth.
We need a national plan to end youth homelessness that addresses the systemic issues underlying it, including family violence, access to affordable housing, youth justice, young people leaving out of home care and unemployment.
Save the Nationall Affordable Housing Agreement
Treasurer Scott Morrison has repeatedly said he intends to substantially change the $1.34 billion funding agreement that currently delivers homelessness and family violence support, as well as public and community housing to 440,000 low income households in Australia (the National Affordable Housing Agreement or NAHA).
Victorian Government data shows that these cuts would mean 56,000 Victorians per year would not be able to access homelessness services, and put at risk the social housing system that provides homes for more than 170,000 people.
CHP and Homelessness Australia are calling on you to email your federal MP, senators and the Treasurer to oppose cuts to homelessness and family violence services and public and community housing. You can sign the petition here. Help us to keep this going by sharing this link: www.SaveNPAH.org/email_your_mp
What is a bond aggregator?
With the federal budget due for release on 9 May, and rumours swirling of a housing bond aggregator as its centrepiece, now seems like the right time to ask: what is a housing bond aggregator? The first thing to clarify; this is not a bond like you pay on a rental property.
The bonds we’re talking about are a type of government borrowing. Governments can borrow money at a much cheaper rate than community housing providers. ‘Issuing bonds’ will essentially mean that the government takes out big loans on the behalf of community housing providers, and those providers pay it back, but at those cheap interest rates.
The aggregator part comes into it because no one single community housing provider wants to take on the amount of debt that is required to access those cheap interest rates. But as a sector, there is huge interest in taking on that debt to build new housing.
So a bond aggregator is just like a government bank, issuing cheap debt to community housing organisations so that they can build more houses with the same amount of money.
What’s CHP’s view? We believe that the housing bond aggregator will lead to an increase in the availability of community housing stock, at next to no cost to government. While that’s something we can all support, it doesn’t remove the need to provide funding for the ongoing costs of public housing. This is a positive development, but we’re still keen to save the NAHA!
Caravan park closures drive homelessness
CHP recently told The Age newspaper that the spate of suburban caravan park closures in recent years is contributing to the increase in homelessness, as low-cost housing options become scarcer and scarcer.
At least six suburban caravan parks home to hundreds of people on low incomes will have closed by the beginning of 2018. Two – in Brooklyn and Williamstown – have already shut their doors on the 200+ people that call them home.
As Melbourne’s suburbs continue to lose marginal housing, there becomes fewer options for those in need, and more people faced with primary homelessness.
In our pre-Budget Submission, we called for 10,000 additional one-bedroom public housing dwellings over the next five years. The State Government’s recent social housing announcements are encouraging, delivering around 6,000 dwellings over the next five years, but there are 33,000 people waiting for public housing in Victoria.
The Home Stretch
CHP is part of the ‘The Home Stretch’ campaign, which is dedicated to extending support for young people in out-of-home care to the age of 21. Currently these formal supports end when a young person turns 18. Too many of these young people end up facing ongoing disadvantage, including homelessness.
Research shows that those who leave care at 21 are less likely to experience homelessness, alcohol or drug dependency, or have interactions with the justice system, and are more likely to engage with education and employment, and have better physical and mental health. Not every young person wants to stay at home; but young people who require support should always have that option.
Federal Government review of emergency relief now closed
The Federal Government review into the ‘Future Directions of the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity’ is now closed. This funding provides about $100M per year in emergency relief.
Once again the PESP team provided critical insights into what eligibility restrictions could mean. You can read our submission here.
Walk in my shoes… Homelessness experience tours
CHP’s Peer Education and Support Program (PESP) delivers groundbreaking Homelessness Experience Tours. We are now piloting a tour which is open to bookings by individuals. Anyone with an interest in homelessness issues is welcome to attend.
Groups are lead on a walking tour of the Melbourne CBD / inner city suburbs by someone with a lived experience who will talk them through sites of personal significance. The next tour will be led by Jason, who joined the PESP team at the beginning of 2016.
Date: 21 April 2017
Time: 10am – 12 noon
Meeting point: CHP, 2 Stanley St, Collingwood (the tour will end at the St Vincent’s Hospital)
We encourage you to download and display the flier in your workplace.
The campaign for fair rental laws gathers pace
We are a proud supporter of the Make Renting Fair Campaign as we share the widespread concerns that weakening tenant protections will directly lead to homelessness for thousands of insecure renters. If private rental access and stability goes backwards for this group, we’ll see longer housing waiting lists, more people in rooming houses and more people sleeping rough.
Sign the campaign petition here and add your voice to the call for fair rental reforms. You can also read CHP’s full submission to Consumer Affairs Victoria’s options paper.
CHP’s top pick
Visit CHP’s what’s on page for more events and information.