As the nation focuses on anti-poverty awareness this week, homelessness is set to soar after the recent 2020 Federal Budget failed to provide stimulus investment into social housing.
The impact of this decision is likely to affect tens of thousands of Australian families.
Organisations that support the homeless say the forecast for these Australians looks bleak as more families plummet into unemployment resulting in homelessness from rental or mortgage stress.
Adding to this plight, homelessness services are facing a $41.3 million cut which was also made in the recent Budget.
Homelessness Australia Chair, Jenny Smith said the budget for homelessness was devastating, placing the sector in an impossible situation.
“The Treasurer had a choice to make, and he has chosen homelessness for tens of thousands of Australian families. Without increases in social housing and with even less resources for homelessness services, many families will become stuck in homelessness for a long time.”
Ms Smith stressed homelessness services were already under enormous strain.
“Last year alone, services had to turn away 253 people every day because not enough housing or support was available, and cuts to services will increase the number of people in need who are turned away.”
Ms Smith said failure to invest in social housing growth in the 2020 Budget followed a 10% cut to housing and homelessness funding over the three years from 2017-18 to 2020-21, most of which has been cut from remote Indigenous housing.
“The 2020 Budget includes a one-off payment to Queensland for remote Indigenous housing. It also includes funding for remote housing in NT, but even with these short term funds, annual funding for housing in remote Indigenous communities is $237.2, less than half the amount of $526.6 spent in 2017-18,” she said.
Campaign group, Everybody’s Home has been lobbying for a better, fairer housing system for everyone. Speaking about the Budget they said before COVID-19 there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia, and more than 800,000 living in rent stress.
“We now face a perfect storm for homelessness to increase – with people who have lost income ‘trading down’ to cheaper rentals, and squeezing out people on the lowest incomes,” said campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin.
Claire Victory, National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society said the absence of funding for social housing in the Budget defied logic.
“We continue to hold that a significant investment in social housing would have provided a shot in the arm for the construction industry, immediately boosting jobs including apprenticeships, and helped to address the chronic shortage of social housing for people on low incomes,” she said.
“While we should be looking to support the most vulnerable people, this Budget prioritises the business sector and the well-off. This has been a missed opportunity.”