The nation’s peak body tackling homelessness has released an ambitious list of ways they claim would halve homelessness in five years, and fix the problem within a decade.
Homelessness Australia wants to see 50,000 social and affordable homes built per year, an increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, and government services to be targeted towards the prevention, rather than symptoms, of homelessness.
Homelessness Australia CEO Kate Colvin said one in 10 Australians will experience homelessness in their lifetime, and First Nations people confront a homelessness rate almost 10 times that of other Australians.
“Homelessness is a growing national crisis, the harsh brunt of which is felt by First Nations people, women, children, and those exposed to climate change,” Ms Colvin said.
”The structural failures and policy gaps, especially in housing affordability and support for vulnerable people, are pushing more people into a strained system.”
The recommendations have been made in the body’s submission to the National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
The proposed changes to Commonwealth Rent Assistance would extended the scheme to people on low wages in rental stress who are currently ineligible because they do not receive income support.
Ms Colvin said her organisation also wants to see mainstream services adopt a “duty to assist,” where public officials like Centrelink staff screen for homelessness risk, activate supports and referrals, and commit that no one exits public services into homelessness.
“The homelessness system is simply not resourced to assist people in need,” Ms Colvin said.
“The sad reality is that 72,000 people were turned away from homelessness services in 2021-22 alone. This is a reflection of real human suffering and trauma.
“The duty to assist someone at risk of homelessness must be woven through the fabric of all government services. Nobody should exit a government service into homelessness.
“A national commitment is overdue. Homelessness is entirely solvable and Australia has all the resources and insight necessary to end it within a decade. All we lack is the political and financial commitment.”
The National Housing and Homelessness Plan is a 10-year strategy which will inform future housing and homelessness policy.