The state of the homelessness sector
A survey of 143 agencies last week reported that 95% of the respondents believed the tender process for the recent specialist homelessness services reform had a negative impact, changing partners into competitors and caused stress and confusion and uncertainty to staff and clients.
Add to this the Federal Government’s recent budget which will result in some young unemployed people having no income for 6 months, and we should expect numbers of homeless people to grow over the next few years.
Whilst affordable housing is a significant part of the problem, there are other issues we should be concerned about. For example, in NSW:
- 34% of the homeless are people fleeing domestic violence and family breakdown. We really must do more to get this number down.
- 25% are young people under 25 who have struggled at school and struggle to find work. Homelessness for young people is as much about unemployment as it is about accommodation. Why doesn’t government understand this?
- 13.5% are people who have been in care or some institution.
One of the challenges in our sector is to respond as best we can to changes in government policies, even if these changes cause hardship for people.
- We can seek private partners to develop affordable housing on church land
- We can develop innovative programs like the Samaritans Foyer which links homeless young people to vocational training and employment.
- We can maintain our effort to support people leaving prison so they can avoid homelessness.
- We can develop better ways to support children in Out of Home Care so that they can look forward to leaving care with some optimism.
One of the joys of working in our sector is that you can always do something; people are never powerless to help their fellow citizens.