RELEASED: February 16, 2022
Social Futures is pointing to two new reports on housing and homelessness as evidence that the homeless crisis is worsening and the housing system is in urgent need of repair.
The Ending Homelessness in Australia: An Evidence and Policy Deep Dive report is based on the largest survey of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in a decade – some 20,953 respondents.
Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said the report found that the average period of homelessness was 3.8 years for individuals and 1.9 years for families.
“Social Futures is keenly aware of the housing crisis in the Northern Rivers, where we deliver programs. The rental stock here is depleted and property prices have seen some of the strongest growth in Australia – that translates to more local people finding themselves homeless,” he said.
“The Ending Homelessness report also found that people experiencing homelessness were more likely to suffer from ill health with their rates of asthma, liver disease, dehydration, hepatitis, heart disease and diabetes higher than the general population.
“Homelessness takes a huge toll on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and depletes the whole community – it impacts children, older people and families. No one is immune from homelessness.”
Mr Davies said the Productivity Commission’s new Report on Government Services found that more Australians are being pushed towards poverty and homelessness.
“According to that report close to half of all people who needed help with homelessness last year in New South Wales did not get it,” Mr Davies said.
“The situation has also been deteriorating in Queensland, where unmet need for homelessness services is at almost 40%, up 10% from 2017.
“Women and children are extremely likely to be among those needing homelessness supports. Almost 40% of people contacting services had experienced domestic and family violence.”
Social Futures says there is a need for all levels of government (local, state and federal) to act. Social Futures is calling for:
1. more investment in social housing, targeted to areas with acute housing shortages. This will take pressure off the over-heated private market.
2. amend state planning and land tax rules to create incentives for affordable housing to be included in new developments.
3. reform NSW tenancy laws and regulations to remove no-grounds terminations, and ensure rent increases are proportionate and fair, and encourage longer-term leases.
4. prioritise social and affordable housing delivery on appropriate unused government land.
5. create a housing innovation fund to support not-for-profit organisations to deliver social housing that meets community need, including small-scale housing for one and two-person households.
6. increase funding to homelessness support organisations so they can intervene early and support people at-risk of homelessness.