Report Calls for Restoration of Homeless Funding
25 September 2014 at 8:00 am
A Victorian housing and homelessness agency has called on the State Government to restore funding to a housing support program in the wake of a new financial report.
Chief Executive Officer of HomeGround Services, Heather Holst said funding should be restored to the Victorian Social Housing Advocacy Support Program (SHASP) after a report found 78 per cent of public housing tenants supported by the program avoided eviction and 73 per cent engaged in repaying rent debts.
A state-wide data collection project conducted from July to September 2013 by the SHASP managers’ network confirmed SHASP saved tenancies and money from the public purse.
Despite significant cuts to funding in 2012 (from $7.4 million to $4.7 million) the survey, a first of its kind, demonstrates the social and economic benefits of providing support to public housing tenants whose tenancies are at risk, the report found.
Holst said SHASP was a cost effective program that works.
“It is a vital service for both public housing tenants and the public housing system. The program has demonstrated that it effectively engages with tenants to get back on track with rental payments and other obligations,” Holst said.
The paper detailed the successful case management model and states a case for SHASP to be expanded to support more tenants living in public housing and those living in community and private housing.
“We know that giving people support as early as possible means that people avoid slipping into homelessness. The model really deserves the support of government and should be expanded to assist people living in private rental as well,” Holst said.
Chair of the SHASP Managers Network and Manager of the Housing Justice Program in Bendigo, Mim Dineen said the three-month study found 60 per cent of clients sustained their tenancy and another 18 per cent were still being supported by the program.
“Just three per cent of clients were evicted or relinquishing their tenancy. The 24 known evictions during this study period could be compared to those figures released by DHS for 2012-2013 of 304 actual ‘forced evictions’.
“Supporting an evicted tenant through homelessness services has been identified by one DHS study to cost upward of $34,000. SHASP is a cost effective service calculated at approximately $1,958 per client,” Dineen said.
“Cuts to SHASP by the Napthine Government in 2012 occurred weeks after it was advised the program was one of the main reasons Victoria was meeting national partnership agreement targets to reduce homelessness.”
The full SHASP discussion paper can be found here.