A powerful coalition has thrown its support behind ending youth homelessness in Victoria, calling for a new strategy spearheaded by state government social housing investment.
More than 60 signatories including peak bodies, youth services, homelessness and housing organisations, health, legal and family services have written to Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy backing the plan.
Of the 8,830 young people needing housing that approached homelessness services last year, 5,060 were turned away, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
All major parties have been urged to commit to building 5,000 new social housing properties for young people over the next four years, as well as to delivering a new youth homelessness strategy.
One in six people seeking homelessness assistance last year was aged between 15 and 24.
Last year, 17,743 people in that age group sought assistance from Victoria’s specialist homelessness services – 12,845 of them presented alone, unaccompanied by parents. In Victoria, only 541 transitional and 66 long-term properties are designated for young people.
In 2021, just 238 public housing properties from the general stock had a young person as the lead tenant.
“No young person should be homeless in Victoria. By building social housing and providing the support young people need we can make this a reality,” CHP Chief Executive Officer Jenny Smith said.
“The leaders of peak bodies, youth services, homelessness and housing organisations, health, legal and family services all see that for young people who can’t live safely at home, the lack of housing and support is preventing too many from achieving their goals.”
“Young people are becoming trapped in homelessness because Victoria doesn’t have sufficient resourcing or a joined-up system to prevent and respond to youth homelessness.
“Victoria’s last youth homelessness plan – delivered in 2006 – is older than some of the young people today who desperately need help.
“The massive gap between the amount of young people seeking help and social housing designated for young people is now a crisis.
“The combination of support tailored to young people and the medium to long-term housing solutions provided by social dwellings is essential to tackling this issue.
“Without a home, young people can be in increasing danger from violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse, which can compound previous traumas.
“Not only does youth homelessness cause significant harm to the individuals who experience it, but it results in enormous long-term costs to the government.”
The joint letter has also been sent to Housing Minister Danny Pearson, Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, and Shadow Housing Minister Richard Riordan.
CHP’s 2022 Victorian election platform makes 27 recommendations for the next state government including 6,000 new social housing properties each year for a decade.