Growing Number of Victorians ‘Evicted into Homelessness’
12 February 2018 at 3:04 pm
The number of Victorians “evicted into homelessness” has more than doubled in the past five years, leading the state’s peak homelessness body to call for the creation of more social housing using rising stamp duty revenue.
The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) noted figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), which showed that 43,751 people presented at Victorian homelessness services due to eviction last financial year.
In 2011-2012, that figure was only 17,930 people.
Meanwhile, the mid-year state budget forecast revealed that the Victorian government expects to collect $6.57 billion in stamp duty over 2017-18, compared to $3.3 billion in 2011-2012.
In its state budget submission, CHP called for stamp duty revenue to be used to build more social housing for those affected by the “housing crisis”.
CHP CEO Jenny Smith told Pro Bono News this rise in evictions was due to a lack of affordable housing and rising rent prices.
“We have a housing affordability crisis and so we know people on the lowest incomes are really struggling to get into the market,” Smith said.
“And if they do happen to find themselves in circumstances where their tenancy has ended, then the opportunities for them to actually acquire another rental property is really low.
“For people on the lowest incomes there are hardly any properties coming onto the market that they can afford. So when people find themselves in circumstances where they are being evicted, then increasingly homelessness is the outcome.”
The Andrews Victorian government has dedicated $2.1 billion to the social housing sector to help build affordable accommodation and have a $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund, which the government said will build 2,200 more homes over four years.
Smith lauded the Victorian government for “doing as much as any state or territory government” in response to housing issues and increasing homelessness.
But she said a lack of federal government action meant the state government needed to do even more.
“There’s a pipeline of around 6,000 social housing properties coming over the next five years and [the state government] has done incredible work in relation to family violence and also rough sleeping,” Smith said.
“However we are in a situation where we do not have any federal government plan or any indication of any strategy or increased investment in either affordable housing or response to homelessness.
“So in that context we are leaning on the state government to triple their [current] efforts and guarantee the growth of social housing in the future by linking it to the rise in stamp duty.”
Victorian Minister for Housing Martin Foley told Pro Bono News that “every Victorian deserves a roof over their head”.
“We want to break the cycle of homelessness. That means intervening early to get people housed quickly and connect them with services so they can maintain that housing,” Foley said.
“We are also providing a much needed helping hand for those who find themselves in a difficult situation – to help them get their lives back on track.”
Foley also called on the federal government to commit to tackling the issue.
“This demands a national approach. If the Turnbull government doesn’t finalise the national partnership on housing and homelessness, we face services being cut and more people being forced into homelessness,” he said.
This comes as new AIHW data on specialist homelessness services revealed one in 56 people in Victoria received homelessness assistance in 2016-17, higher than the national rate of one in 84.
This includes a higher than national rate for priority groups including Indigenous people, victims of domestic and family violence, people with disability and those with mental health related issues.