In Victoria, more than 22,000 people on any given night are homeless. This is unacceptable, and we are committed to ending the hardship, trauma, costs and severe disadvantages to individuals and our community caused by homelessness .
Homelessness affects more than 100,000 Australians every day of the year. In Victoria, more than 22,000 Victorians registered as homeless in the 2011 Census. We have seen an increase in demand on our services as rising rents and shrinking affordable housing and public housing stock force people into homelessness.
Sleeping rough, in cars or in unsafe, unaffordable transient or insecure housing has severe effects—it is extremely stressful and damaging to people’s physical and mental health due to the fear, anxiety and violence that people who are homeless often experience.
People become homeless for many reasons, the most common being family violence and breakdown, poverty, and serious physical and/or mental health issues.
We believe homelessness can be solved; the solutions are common sense, practical and cost effective. Trauma can be averted and lives can be transformed with the right combination of housing, support and health support.
Public housing is not free. The Victorian Department of Human Services states that “rent is…25% of your total household income, for household member 18 years of age of over”. Public housing is a safety net for people on low incomes who cannot afford to pay full, market-priced, rent and are most in need of secure, affordable housing. In Victoria there is a chronic shortage of public housing and wait lists are long.
No-one chooses homelessness. Many people who become homeless have experienced serious disadvantage throughout their lives, including long-term unemployment, poor education, violence, mental health problems, disability and substance use problems. Homelessness can also occur due to a specific event, such a losing a job, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, being evicted from stable accommodation, suffering a major health condition, or experiencing a high level of financial stress.
Housing is a human right, recognised under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Every person has ‘the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity’, which take into account indictors such as tenure and affordability. The ICESCR also states that forced evictions are a violation of their covenant and should not leave a person homeless.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2011, Australian Government, Canberra.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Specialist homelessness services: 2013–2014. Cat.no. HOU 276. Canberra: AIHW.
Council to Homeless Persons www.chp.org.au
Homelessness Australia www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au