Homelessness in Victoria is at alarming levels, with new data showing it is 24% higher than five years ago.
New Census data released on Wednesday has revealed 30,660 people are homelessness in Victoria, confirming the urgent need for a strategy to end homelessness.
Victoria’s 24% increase eclipsed the national rise of 5%.
The numbers are believed to be the state’s most accurate picture of homelessness because the Census was conducted during Victoria’s lockdown, allowing more people to be reached and counted.
Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale said the situation required an immediate response.
“This alarming surge in homelessness must be the catalyst for the State Government to act urgently by continuing to invest – and there are solutions,” Ms Di Natale said.
“These grim numbers show exactly why the Victorian Government must fund highly successful programs like From Homelessness to a Home, which provides stable housing and support for people who are sleeping rough.
“H2H has successfully housed people placed in hotels during Covid but the numbers today reveal more is needed.
“With the most accurate picture of homelessness we’ve ever had, it’s clear a comprehensive strategy is needed to end homelessness.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homelessness in Victoria grew more than 40% to 1,109 people over the past five years.
Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) Chair and Aboriginal Housing Victoria CEO Darren Smith said: “No more empty promises or vague targets – we need an initial pledge to build a minimum 300 houses a year in Victoria for First Nations people, because these census figures show us how catastrophic inaction is.
“Further, the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund will fail to address the breadth of housing needs faced by Aboriginal Victorians unless 10 per cent of new dwellings are specifically provided for First Nations peoples in urban, regional and remote areas.”
Ms Di Natale said responding to growing levels of First Nations homelessness needed to be an integral part of the state’s strategy.
“It’s simply not good enough that First Nations people are massively over-represented in homelessness figures.
“That’s why CHP is urging the government to create a pool of 600 properties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leaving prison and at-risk of being homeless.
“We need an Aboriginal-specific homelessness system in Victoria fully funded and implemented.”
The new data has reiterated the need for the Victorian Government to make the following commitments to end homelessness in the May State Budget:
Build 6,000 new social housing properties each year for at least a decade
Ensure 10 per cent, or 600, of those properties are owned by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations
Spend $47.5 million in 2023/24 to keep From Homelessness To A Home being gutted on June 30, with $224.4 million over the next four years to continue and grow the program
“The solutions to end homelessness within reach, and this Government has demonstrated they are committed through past investment in H2H and the Big Housing Build. We just need to see the political will to continue to invest to end homelessness,” Ms Di Natale said.
“Now we’ve seen the true extent of homelessness, we urge the Victorian Government to respond to the crisis engulfing our state.”