Rise in homelessness ‘unacceptable and unforgivable’

Launch Housing experts demand action at homelessness inquiry today

Launch Housing staff will give evidence at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria today, and call out the lack of action on homelessness for what it is: unacceptable and unforgivable.At the first public hearing in Melbourne today, Launch Housing Chief Executive Bevan Warner will outline how rapidly homelessness is increasing, and the actions urgently needed to help end it.

“The persistent and continued growth of homelessness in Victoria is unacceptable and unforgivable,” Bevan said.“Homelessness is catastrophic and chaotic, whether a person experiences it once, or cycles in and out of it throughout their life. It not only damages a person’s spirit and sense of hope, but it literally harms your health and increases the chances of premature death.

“Almost 25,000 Victorians do not have a safe, stable place to sleep tonight. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.”
Bevan said the face of homelessness is changing, but ultimately the cause is a lack of affordable housing.“The face of homelessness is increasingly an older woman, a family and a child. It is a returned veteran, a woman leaving a violent partner, an Indigenous Victorian. Every story is different. But the roots of homelessness lie with a lack of affordable housing,” Bevan said.

“Shamefully, Victoria has the lowest level of public and community housing stock in Australia at 3.5%, well below the national average of 4.5%. There is also a depressing lack of affordable private rentals, with only 0.3% of one-bedroom dwellings in metropolitan Melbourne affordable to recipients of NewStart.

Given the right policies, programs and attendant political leadership, homelessness can be solved.

“We can’t end homelessness without more homes, but we also need targeted support. We must take what works to scale and commit to make the investment needed,” Bevan said.
“Everyone equally needs and deserves a safe, stable, affordable place to live. This is a community issue that demands a community solution, supported by all levels of government.”
Launch Housing recommends six key actions to address homelessness in Victoria:

  1. Address the urgent need to invest in social housing
  2. More and better assistance for people to sustain a rental tenancy – be it private or public – and prevent the spiral into homelessness.
  3. Better discharge from hospitals and other institutions – It beggars belief that someone is discharged from hospital back to homelessness.
  4. An improved response for crisis accommodation – purchasing beds from sub-standard private hotels and motels with poor amenities is unsafe, expensive, and further traumatises very vulnerable families and individuals
  5. Increase the supply of Housing First or Permanent Supportive Housing; where services are insourced to residents, needing ongoing support to maintain a safe tenancy.
  6. Expand the provision of Education First Youth Foyers to provide proven pathways to vulnerable young people back into education and employment.

About Launch Housing
Launch Housing is a Melbourne based, secular and independent community agency whose mission is to end homelessness. It provides high quality housing, support, education and employment services to thousands of people across 14 sites in metropolitan Melbourne.