Victoria’s peak homelessness body has warned regional areas set to host the Commonwealth Games will see a spike in people sleeping rough unless a critical homelessness program is thrown a budget lifeline.
From Homelessness to a Home (H2H) is at risk of being gutted unless the Victorian Government extends its funding in the May State Budget.
The program has helped hundreds of people who were sleeping rough in regional areas find stable accommodation and wraparound support.
Council to Homeless Persons is calling for $224.4 million over the next four years to continue and grow the program across the state.
There are 416 regional Victorian households being supported by H2H. Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
If funding doesn’t continue, those areas will lose out with:
131 H2H packages around Geelong (Barwon)
85 across Gippsland
74 around Ballarat (Central Highlands and West)
106 in Bendigo (Loddon Mallee)
“Regional Victoria won’t have had this much external scrutiny since the gold rush,” said Council to Homeless Persons Chief Executive Officer Deborah Di Natale.
“We have a choice about whether they’ll see our current leadership in reducing entrenched homelessness, or the inevitable homelessness that would result from these cuts
“Failing to fund H2H when Victoria is in the grips of one of its most serious housing crises would be a devastating blow after all the incredible results the program has achieved.
“Over four years, this is a modest investment given the immense benefit H2H delivers for people who have historically had a lot of difficulty finding stable housing.
“A decision which would leave them at high risk of being back on the streets of our regional cities would be devastating.”
“It’s absolutely critical that people are in stable housing and knowing the world’s eyes are on regional Victoria during the Commonwealth Games might just give government the push it needs,” Ms Di Natale said.
“Funding H2H will send an emphatic message about the kind of Victoria we have when the world arrives.
CHP is also calling for at least 30 per cent of village accommodation to be social housing after the Games.
“Ensuring a portion of athletes’ villages become social housing is a smart way to host an amazing Games and create lasting benefits for the entire state,” Ms Di Natale said.