Homelessness can be fixed within a decade (if we build homes now)

By Jarrod
4 Min Read

Australia’s peak homelessness body says the housing crisis can be solved within 10 years if the federal government commits to social housing, reducing rental stress and homelessness prevention. 

The Australian government is hoping to solve the growing homelessness crisis with the new 10-year National Housing and Homelessness Plan (the Plan), offering increased rental assistance, more social housing and billions in state funding.  

But, in a recent submission to the Plan, Homelessness Australia has said that the government’s commitment isn’t enough. 

“Homelessness is a growing national crisis, the harsh brunt of which is felt by First Nations people, women, children, and those exposed to climate change,” said CEO of Homelessness Australia Kate Colvin.

 “The structural failures and policy gaps, especially in housing affordability and support for vulnerable people, are pushing more people into a strained system.”

The peak body’s submission wants to see the construction of 50,000 social and affordable homes per year, as well as an expansion of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program.

The organisation proposes eligibility for the rent assistance payment be extended to low-wage earners in rental stress, who are currently ineligible because they do not receive income support.

While social housing will see the biggest federal investment in more than a decade in the form of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, this is only slated to support the delivery of 30,000 social and affordable homes in its first five years.

The submission would also see mainstream services, such as Centrelink, adopting a ‘duty to assist’ to reorient towards homelessness prevention. 

“The homelessness system is simply not resourced to assist people in need,” said Ms Colvin.

 “The sad reality is that 72,000 people were turned away from homelessness services in 2021-22 alone. This is a reflection of real human suffering and trauma. It is intensifying daily.

“We must pivot to preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. The duty to assist someone at risk of homelessness must be woven through the fabric of all government services. Nobody should exit a government service into homelessness.”

According to the organisation, one in ten Australians will experience homelessness in their lifetime, and First Nations people confront a homelessness rate almost ten times that of other Australians.

The submission also notes that in recent years, regional areas have seen a sharp increase in homelessness, outpacing rates in capital cities.

Ms Colvin says we need a robust national plan addressing the root causes of homelessness. 

“Housing stress is the fastest-growing cause of homelessness, with an astonishing 27 per cent increase from 2018 to 2022,” said Ms Colvin.

“Commonwealth Rent Assistance simply hasn’t kept up with the reality of a white-hot rental market. Eligibility for it must be expanded beyond those who receive income support.”

The latest data reveals the 640,000 households whose housing needs are not being met are projected to surge to 940,000 by 2041. 

“A national commitment is overdue,” said Ms Colvin.

“Homelessness is entirely solvable and Australia has all the resources and insight necessary to end it within a decade. All we lack is the political and financial commitment.”

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.

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