Homelessness Week: a call for more social housing

Olivia Killeen, Communication and Social Policy Officer
Olivia Killeen Communication and Social Policy Officer
3 August 2020
Olivia Killeen, Communication and Social Policy Officer

Everyone needs a home – it’s that simple. But more than 116,000 Australians don’t have a place to call home; and more than 140,000 people across the country are on waiting lists for public housing.

During Australia’s annual Homelessness Week we raise awareness for people experiencing homelessness – and for what needs to be done to end homelessness for good.

Housing AND support ends homelessness

We know there is a solution to the homelessness crisis: programs such as our Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) and the GreenLight initiative show rapid housing and intensive support are key for people to break the cycle of homelessness.

Our approach is different – and it’s effective because it gets people housed quickly and provides long-term, intensive support to improve all areas of people’s lives, including health and wellbeing, building skills, increasing connection with community and contributing to society through economic and social activity.

But our proven programs won’t work, if we can’t get people housed because there is not enough affordable, safe and stable housing in Australia.

COVID-19 shows homelessness is solvable

As devastating as the coronavirus pandemic is, one of the unexpected outcomes of COVID-19 has been the opportunity to prove rough sleeping can be solved, if there is political will.

In Victoria, homelessness agencies including some support by SHM staff to assist Launch Housing’s Rough Sleeper Initiative moved thousands of people into crisis accommodation.

This all was made possible by the State Government, who supported the homelessness sector by providing funds to quickly get people off the streets.

Now that people have temporary housing, we have a rare opportunity to connect with people who are often unseen or overlooked and make a lasting difference in their lives.

While the State Government has announced to extend hotel accommodation until at least April 2021 and to lease 1,100 properties to provide medium-term housing options, there is still work to be done:

To end homelessness for good in Australia, our governments need to address the massive lack of social and affordable housing.

We need a social housing boost - now

COVID-19 has shown how important our homes are but also how broken our housing system is.

As a partner of the ‘Everybody’s Home’ campaign, we are calling on our governments during Homelessness Week to make housing a top priority.

Both State and Federal Governments need to invest in social housing now, which will create homes for people who need them, and construction jobs to help our economy rebuild; ensuring everyone who needs a home gets a home.

What you can do this Homelessness Week

Tell our governments they need to build more social and affordable housing and commit to a national action plan to end homelessness by 2030, sign the Everybody’s Home campaign petition today.