Homeless package must not forget the ‘hidden homeless’

July 30, 2020

Uniting Vic.Tas has welcomed the Victorian Government’s new $150 million from Homelessness to a Home package and called for a greater focus on homelessness in regional Victoria.

Uniting Vic.Tas CEO, Bronwyn Pike said the package would provide a long-term future for those people being housed in temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic, but government also needed to tackle the ‘hidden homelessness’ epidemic in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and in regional Victoria.

“We often associate the idea of homelessness as somebody who is sleeping rough on the streets of Melbourne, but that’s only a small part of the problem,” Ms Pike said.

“In our outer suburbs and in cities and small towns across regional Victoria, there are people not only sleeping rough, but couch surfing, or living in emergency or temporary accommodation, sometimes as a result of family violence.

“We would want to see some of this funding package helping those who are living in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and in regional areas who don’t have the safety and security of a stable home.”

The Government has announced it will extend current hotel accommodation until at least April next year while 2,000 homeless people are supported to access stable, long term housing.

The government will also arrange to lease 1,100 properties from the private rental market, providing accommodation for people once they leave emergency accommodation, provide flexible support packages and extra funding for the Private Rental Assistance Program.

Ms Pike said the announcement showed homelessness was not an intractable problem and more could be done to help people in crisis.

“Housing is a key factor in helping get a person’s life on track and once it’s secured, other complex needs can be addressed such as employment, mental health or alcohol and drug problems,” she said

“Ending homelessness for good has to be our priority. That means even more investment from both State and Federal Governments in social housing, making housing more affordable and improving support for vulnerable people so they don’t slip through the cracks.”

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