New data reveals that 105 Victorians are turned away from homelessness services daily, highest rate in the country


18 December 2019

The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) says the increased number of people whose needs for homelessness assistance are unmet on any given day, highlights how inadequate investment in social housing and homelessness is impacting some of the state’s most vulnerable Victorians.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released new data today on the number of people accessing Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) in 2018-19 nationally.

Alongside the release of this new data, CHP has released its State Budget Submission 2020-21 calling for urgent and critical investments to address the needs of people without a home.

CHP CEO Jenny Smith says, “The data shows that homelessness services are even more stretched beyond their means. Last year 90 Victorians were turned away daily and this year, every day 105 Victorians are not getting the support they need.

“Homelessness is increasing because rents keep increasing in the private market, and the proportion of social housing is shrinking. There is so much competition for rentals that those on the lowest incomes are being pushed out of the market, and into homelessness.

“In Victoria, 112,919 people without, or at risk of being without a home, sought help from our homelessness services in the past year. That’s equivalent to one in every 57 Victorians.

“For Aboriginal Victorians the rate was far higher, with more than one in every six Aboriginal Victorians seeking help from homelessness services. This is a gross overrepresentation of Aboriginal people without a home.

“Victoria had the highest service use compared to other states, with 39 per cent of all people in Australia who accessed homelessness services being based in Victoria. This reflects in part on the impact of Victoria’s strong economy, which leads to Victorians on the lowest incomes having to compete for rental properties with a growing number of people on higher incomes.

Family and domestic violence is a significant factor in people approaching homelessness services in Victoria, with 44 per cent of service users citing this as a reason for seeking help.

“Of those who had experienced family violence, lack of access to housing that is affordable means that one in four who were without a home when they came for help, were still unhoused after seeking assistance; and a further 36 per cent were in temporary accommodation.

“Lack of long term housing options is creating problems across the homelessness service system. Of the 55,314 people without a home and needing accommodation, there were 21,193 that weren’t able to access any accommodation support.

“This problem is created because crisis accommodation and short term housing options are all full of people who can’t move into long term housing.”

“This is why we are calling for the Victorian Government to invest in 6,000 social housing properties a year for ten years, to meet the urgent need for affordable long term housing.

“Today’s data has shown that Victoria is the state with the highest number of people seeking homelessness services and support. With Victoria’s strong and growing economy, there is no reason we should be turning away anyone, let alone 105 people, every day.”

“With the Federal Government missing in action, the Victorian Government needs to get serious about investing in long term housing options and in homelessness support if we want to stop turning people away from homelessness services. The Government needs to build 6,000 new social housing properties every year for ten years if we want to see a Victoria where no one is without a home,” said Ms Smith.