Hundreds of homeless families to get permanent housing

Hundreds of homeless families in Victoria, Australia, who have been staying in state-funded hotels during lockdowns will be found a permanent place to live.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne says the state government’s $66-million investment will go towards supporting 250 families, including 400 children.

They will be able to stay in hotels after next February’s cut-off point until permanent homes that fit their needs are found.

He says the state government is planning to work with community housing organisations to acquire accommodation for families currently living in hotels.

Victoria’s most recent (sixth) lockdown at the beginning of August seemingly its last, the program will be gradually wound back.

Council to Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith is welcoming the $66 million commitment to homeless families. She is concerned some people would still fall through the cracks, however.

These will include homeless singles and couples, who aren’t included in the new state government investment. They will need to work with support agencies to find new accommodation by February.

Smith says it’s inevitable some singles and couples will need to move into “substandard and unacceptable” accommodation such as rooming houses once the hotels programme concludes.

“Until more social housing exists or the federal government increases its support to the homeless to an acceptable level, that’s just the situation at the moment,” she says.

She wants the state government to extend the permanent housing support to highly vulnerable individuals in the short and medium-term.

“We were concerned as a sector that we’d just be turfing people out of hotels. This is a fantastic outcome for those families, who can now enjoy a full-time home and build a trajectory towards a bright future,” she says.

Somewhat further down the track next year, the state government’s $5.3 billion housing build plans will create 12,000 new properties. The first of these won’t open until the second half of next year at the earliest.

Wynne says the state government will support all residents in emergency hotels to develop a housing exit plan over the coming months.

“We are continuing to work with the community sector to provide the support needed, including transitional housing and private rental assistance,” he says.

Peter Ruzyla, chief executive of social and community health organisation EACH, is welcoming the sharpened focus on homelessness and pragmatic about what can be achieved initially.

“It is a reality check that not everybody can be perfectly assisted at all times. The existing system is working at full stretch to absorb this amount of additional work, money and people in a very short period of time,” he said.


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