Homelessness Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to scrap a planned $56.7 million cut to homelessness services but lamented another budget and another year without Federal Government action on social housing. The budget includes $124.7 million which reverses the planned cut and securing services for two years.
Homelessness Australia Chair Jenny Smith says the sector is pleased the Federal Government through Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston, and Minister for Homelessness Michael Sukkar has listened to the sector, reinstating ERO supplementation funding.
“These frontline homelessness and domestic violence services have been funded by the Federal Government for the past nine years, and we’re pleased to see that this funding is no longer at risk and will continue for at least two years,” Smith says.
“The sector can now get on with the job of supporting people who are without a home, or at risk of homelessness, without the additional worry of having to cut programs or reduce service staff.”
“The budget also included a welcome increase to the Homelessness Supplement for residential aged care providers with more than 50% of residents with a long-term history of homelessness, which increases the support provided to a vulnerable group of older Australians,” Smith says.
“We also welcome the additional investments into flexible funds for women escaping violence, a new two-year national partnership agreement with the states to provide a modest increase in funding for service responses to women experiencing sexual, family or domestic violence, and the additional small commitment to crisis accommodation.
“There is enormous unmet need for support and accommodation for women fleeing violence, and while the additional funding is a small contribution, it is nonetheless a welcome step.
“We hope future investments by the Federal Government contribute to addressing the enormous need for housing affordable to women fleeing violence,” Smith says.
The budget also provided resources to help single parents and first home buyers purchase homes by lowering deposit requirements, and an expansion the First Home Super Saver Scheme.
Smith says these budget measures will help middle income earners, but not those on low incomes who are struggling to access secure housing.
“We are disappointed that the Federal Government has again missed an important opportunity to grow the amount of social housing and to increase income support so people can afford to rent,” Smith says.
“With rents on the rise and more and more people squeezed out of the rental market, we know that homelessness in our community is increasing, and will continue to increase.
“Right now, inadequate income support and skyrocketing rentals are the biggest drivers of homelessness; and addressing these problems sit in the Federal space.
“We need the Federal Government to lead a process with the States and Territories, where they all contribute more to increase the supply of social housing, so people left behind by rising house prices, low vacancy rates, and sky-high rents have a home.”
Story Source: Council to Homeless Persons