About Homelessness Week
Every Victorian should have a home
If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, it is the importance of a home. Yet Victoria is experiencing a housing crisis. The last Census showed that nearly 25,000 Victorians are without a home, that 10,000 Victorians are living in severely overcrowded situations and that nearly 20% of all Victorians are living in housing stress, creating insecurity in their housing situation.
During Homelessness Week, we ask all Victorians who have a home, to think about what their home means to them and to consider what being without that home would mean.
The impact of being without a home is devastating. Those experiencing homelessness have said that homelessness is traumatic, destabilising, distressing, harmful to their health and mental health and makes it harder for them to care for children, find employment, and plan a future.
So why are so many Victorian experiencing homelessness and housing stress?
Victoria is experiencing a housing crisis. You can find more information about homelessness and the housing crisis in our powerpoint presentation [insert link], but, in summary, the housing crisis is caused by:
- An inadequate number of houses – Victoria will need to build 2.2M more houses by 2051, to meet the need for housing; and
- An inadequate amount of affordable housing:
- Victoria has the lowest proportion of public housing per capita, than any other State/Territory in Australia. The State Government’s Big Housing Build will bring Victoria closer to the national average but 6,000 social housing properties will need to be constructed per year, for the next 10 years, to bring Victoria to the national average. If the Federal Government was to match the State funds (as joint party to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement) Victoria could house 50% of those on the public housing waiting lists in the next four years.
- Housing prices are rising faster than incomes.
- In March 2020, 94 rentals out of 19,435 available rental properties in Victoria (less than one per cent) were affordable for a person on the temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker payment.
Although the pandemic has provided some limited short term relief to some households, as the cost of private rental has reduced for some, the crisis will not end until creation of affordable housing becomes a priority at the State, Federal and Local Government level.
About the campaign
The ‘’Every Victorian Should Have a Home’’ campaign provides people who are homeless, and other interested members of the community, with the opportunity to write to the Premier of Victoria, and the Prime Minister, asking that they address the current housing crisis in Victoria through the implementation of a multi-pronged affordable housing strategy.
So, what do we need?
Already in the last five years there has been an increase of 40% in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne’s West and an increase of 74% in people who are visibly homeless in the CBD.
- A monumental boost to social and public housing (building more public housing is an ideal economic stimulus activity)
- Legislation that requires a portion of any new housing development to be allocated to those awaiting this housing
- Construction of innovative temporary accommodation that is safe and self contained.
How did this campaign develop?
When the Northern and Western Homelessness Networks asked consumers what we could do to improve the homelessness system, the response was that the system is largely working well but that we need more housing.
The Networks have worked with consumers to advocate for more housing, by creating the ‘’Every Victorian Should Have a Home campaign.’’
The Northern and Western Homelessness Networks are proud to have worked with people experiencing homelessness in the design of this campaign.
The campaign is now supported by the nine Homelessness Networks across Victoria, that constitute the Victorian Homelessness Network.
Homelessness through the pandemic
The numbers of people presenting to homelessness services quadrupled in some areas during the pandemic. Loss of work meant that thousands of households experienced homelessness for the first time.
Homelessness services were directed by Government to purchase private accommodation for households with nowhere safe to stay during the pandemic. Despite millions in additional funding to cover the cost of hotels, it was still not possible to accommodate everyone who needed housing, for as long as they needed in, in accommodation that was sufficient to their needs.
There are still households in hotels, motels and services apartments across Victoria and new households continue to present every day, who have nowhere safe to stay.
Unlike those returning from quarantine, those experiencing homelessness were accommodated in low end accommodation because the system can only afford this accommodation if consumers contributes as much as 50% to the cost.
Homelessness services were heartened that the State Government has allocated funding to provide accommodation for 18 months, with linked support, for those in hotels who are experiencing the most complex issues.
Many of these people have been sleeping rough for long periods of time, experiencing ever more complex issues as a result.
However, we still have a long way to go to address Victoria’s housing crisis and to bring an end to homelessness in Victoria.2.2
How you can help
Sign the petition to end homelessness in Victoria.
The Homelessness Networks acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land – the people of the Kulin nation. We pay our respects to the Elders past, present and future, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Networks acknowledge that, as a direct consequence of colonisation, Indigenous peoples are over represented amongst Victorians who do not have a safe home in which to live.