The St Vincent de Paul Society is marking Homelessness Week (August 7-13) by calling for greater investment in social housing as part of a comprehensive national strategy to halt the rising rates of homelessness, the charity reports.
“It is shameful that in 2017 a lack of affordable housing continues to exclude people from the basic human right to shelter and safety. It is essential the government invests in social housing, and not leave it to the market to resolve the lack of housing options for people on low incomes,” the Society’s National Council CEO, John Falzon, said.
“You don't reduce inequality by turning your back on people who are pushed into homelessness. You don't reduce homelessness by undermining income security and blaming people for being locked out,” Dr Falzon said.
The call comes on the back of a new analysis of Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data by Homelessness Australia that has shown a significant increase in the numbers of young people and older women experiencing homelessness. Women and children escaping family violence is still the biggest driver of homelessness in the country.
“It is painfully clear the rate of homelessness in Australia is rising with a nine per cent increase in the number of people seeking help from homelessness agencies over the 2015-16 financial year compared to the previous year,” Dr Falzon said.
“There are 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing and at the same time Australia has a shortfall of housing supply, estimated at over 500,000 rental dwellings, which are both affordable and available to the lowest income households.
“For too long people experiencing homelessness and poverty have been blamed for their situation, looked down upon and driven to the margins of society, but thankfully public discourse in Australia is now starting to acknowledge the structural issues, such as housing affordability and the lack of social housing, that are the root causes of homelessness.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society believes if Australia is to meet the target of halving homelessness by 2025 it will require national action and political commitment to implement a comprehensive national strategy.
Social housing desperately needed to halt rising rate of homelessness (St Vincent de Paul Society)