Chronic Housing Stress: Out of Control
Thursday, 30th April 2015
at 11:29 am
Lina Caneva, Editor
Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot reveals chronic housing stress across Australia and the welfare Not for Profit warns that the situation is now “out of control”.
“Our Rental Affordability Snapshot figures this year show there is a severe housing crisis for people on low incomes. As a matter of urgency, Governments must put a national plan in place to resolve it,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said.
“The terrible shortage of affordable housing affects everyone trying to make do on a low income, whatever their circumstance,” Chambers said.
“The numbers speak for themselves. Over the weekend of 11 April, we surveyed more than 65,600 properties and found just 618 properties across the country were suitable for a couple on Newstart with two children. A single person on Parenting Payment with two children had just 165 options.
“Less than 2 per cent of the properties were affordable for people with disability. There were only 16 rooms or dwellings that a young person on Youth Allowance could afford, and we found only 10 properties suitable for someone living alone and looking for work.
“Although people on Age Pension fared slightly better than other household types, many older private renters are at risk of homelessness for the first time in their life. Social housing is especially important for older people as the long term tenure, as well as low rent, allows them to maintain independence and connection, but it is in short supply.
“And when we looked across 10 different Government payment types, only 5 per cent of the dwellings surveyed were suitable for any of them – that is a huge number of people after very few properties.
“What we want is a national plan for affordable housing supported by all levels of Government, which means serious commitment to investment and infrastructure, guided by the social welfare sector and industry. Key elements of this include: improved housing utility; tax reform; more social housing; adequate income for those on low income; and real collaboration across the sector.”
The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot coincides with the release of an assessment report into a program called the Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) run by Sacred Heart Mission in Victoria.
Sacred Heart Mission said the findings from a four year study of the program show that “the cycle of long-term homelessness can be broken, and the solutions can be found right here in our own backyard”.
“The report shows sustained positive outcomes were still being seen one year after services, with 75 per cent still in stable housing, in comparison with only 58 per cent of a control group receiving existing homelessness services,”CEO of Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda, Cathy Humphrey said.
“Another significant outcome of the study was the 80 per cent decline in the need for health services amongst J2SI participants, versus a 21 per cent increase in the need for these services amongst the control group.”
The report, independently evaluated by RMIT and Melbourne University, is said to be the first of its kind to undertake a longitudinal, randomised control trial over four years, that measured a pilot group of 40 J2SI participants receiving intensive services from case workers against a control group of 43 participants receiving existing services.
"Long-term and chronic homelessness presents quite a different challenge to short-term homelessness," Humphrey said. "The effects on the individual, society and economy are costly and complex, with the cycle being harder to break the longer the person has been in that situation.
“J2SI found that developing a sustained trusting relationship between a case worker and a participant, addressing the trauma that causes a person to fall into the cycle of homelessness is critical, alongside rapid access to safe affordable housing.”
Sacred Heart Mission said it is now seeking assistance to raise $4 million in funding to roll out J2SI Mark II, a refined pilot intended to improve outcomes, and demonstrate the capacity to deliver the program at scale.