Homelessness inquiry findings important

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Homelessness inquiry findings important

May 4, 2021

OCAV’s CEO Phillip Wohlers has commended members of the Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria for recognising the critical role that access to adequate housing and income support plays in both preventing and responding to homelessness.

“Homelessness is getting worse in Victoria and more people are vulnerable to the risk of becoming homeless. We must do everything we can to stop the slide,” Mr Wohlers said.

“We particularly welcome the recommendation to include the right to housing in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, and for new mechanisms to deliver more affordable and social housing like inclusionary zoning, and priority use of surplus Government land, as well as ongoing direct investment by Government.

“If people experiencing homelessness can be rapidly helped to move into affordable long-term housing, then we will fix the current bottleneck of people in refuges and crisis accommodation,” Mr Wohlers said.

The inquiry also highlighted what those in the sector already know. Victoria’s homelessness system is severely under resourced.

The report contains 51 recommendations to the Victorian Government that the Committee believes will help address some of the issues facing people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Victoria. These include:

  • Increase the provision of affordable, stable, long-term housing
  • Embed flexibility into its approach to the funding of homelessness programs
  • Prioritise and strengthen early intervention measures such as tenancy support programs and assistance for those fleeing family violence
  • Support innovative accommodation options
  • Provide social housing that meets the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

Many of the recommendations mirror those made by OCAV in its submission where it noted that the terms of reference had not specifically mentioned the housing needs of older people. This is despite the growing number of older people who find themselves homeless. They are all too often invisible in the public policy domain.

The report revealed that most people seeking help are looking for accommodation, but a lack of long-term housing options has meant that only short-term crisis accommodation is available. 76% of people could not get long-term housing and 62% could not get medium-term transitional accommodation.

Victoria has the lowest social housing stock in Australia and is significantly below the national average. The Victorian Government has announced it will build more than 12,000 new dwellings across Victoria but, despite the unprecedented size of the building program, this will still not ensure that Victoria will meet the national average of social housing as a percentage of total dwellings.

“Homelessness is a solvable problem, we know what needs to be done, we just need the will to carry it out,” Mr Wohlers said.

OCAV’s interest in housing and homelessness

While 73 per cent of all older Australians own their home (Productivity Commission 2015, p9), only 47 per cent of OCAV residents owned their home before moving into an OCAV village.

The remaining 53 per cent of OCAV residents were either homeless or vulnerably housed while living with family of friends, in private rentals, public housing or in temporary accommodation and 79% were women on their own.

The Association has a list of over 1,000 Victorians who can wait for up to eight years to enter one of the villages.

 

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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