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3 May 2017

Has the State Budget delivered enough for housing and homelessness? CHP unpacks the detail

Yesterday the Victorian Government handed down a good-news Budget for the social services sector, with $133 million of new commitments to homelessness and housing, and a $1.9 billion commitment to family violence overall, including:

  • $83 million to redevelop 13 refuges to a core and cluster model
  • $48 million for 110 public housing properties for families fleeing family violence
  • $2 million for new headleased housing for one year for families fleeing family violence

Much of the Budget content was already known, having been pre-released through a series of announcements over the last 12 months.
Most notable amongst those previous announcements was the Government’s major housing centrepiece Homes for Victorians which included new resources to increase social housing:  

Other previous commitments appeared in the December Budget Update, including:

Many of the commitments in the $109 million suite will roll out from July 2017, including the $10.9 million over four years for housing assistance for young people leaving out-of-home care, or youth justice, up until the age of 21.

Further highlights in the $109 package, was the $25 million for new crisis accommodation, two-year flexible support packages for 50 people who have experienced chronic homelessness, specialist therapeutic staff in crisis accommodation and increased assertive outreach capacity over five years. These are important steps to tackling rough sleeping for some, but fall short of the systemic approach and scale of permanent supportive housing that we need to provide a Housing First program response to all people with more complex needs who need this help.  See our previous analysis of the $109 million package.

Disappointingly, what failed to appear in the budget was an expansion of funding for early intervention tenancy programs, such as the Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program (SHASP) to include support for community housing tenants, as well as to reinstate the SHASP funding cuts imposed by the previous State Government.

After thorough examination, CHP has created an easy-to-read matrix which breaks down housing, homelessness and family violence funding delivered under the State Budget 2017-18, which we’ve categorised into five areas: Housing Supply & Crisis Accommodation; Youth Homelessness; Rough Sleeping;  Preventing Homelessness and Additional Resources for Homelessness Services to Manage Soaring Demand for Help.

In addition to the investments requiring additional resources from Treasury that appeared in the Budget Update and State Budget, there have been a series of homelessness and housing announcements funded using existing departmental resources. In order to give you a full picture of funding allocations over the past year CHP has compiled a full list of homelessness and housing announcements. 

Overall the Budget for Housing Assistance in 2017-18 is 14% higher than the 2016-17 Budget, which was 11% higher than the 2015-16 Budget. We have applauded this increased emphasis on housing affordability and homelessness, but also noted that our homelessness crisis is the result of years of neglect and under-investment by successive State and Federal Governments, that will require years of sustained investment and cooperation between State and Federal Governments to reverse.
 
While the State has increased investment in housing and homelessness in the last three the Federal Government has decreased their investment in real terms, as the chart below shows.

We are calling on the Federal Government to follow Victoria’s lead and increase investment in social housing and homelessness in the budget. You can join our action by signing and sharing this petition, or taking part in this action to call the Treasurer’s office.

We keenly await the Federal Budget, which will be handed down on Tuesday 9 May.