Who is my neighbour?

Housing is a human right, but on any given night in Australia more than 105, 000 people are homeless.

Every day, our staff and members see the human face behind the statistics. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate – the homeless population comprises people of all ages and backgrounds.

For some, homelessness is a one-off occurrence. For others, it is a prolonged experience that may be interspersed with periods of being housed. The experience of homelessness can also vary greatly – from sleeping on the streets or moving between temporary situations, to living in a crowded or unsafe dwelling that effects a person’s ability to participate in family and community life. 

Explore the issue

There is simply not enough affordable housing to meet demand, and the situation has been getting steadily worse.

Growing numbers of people are living without secure accommodation or are experiencing housing stress (paying more than 30 per cent of household income on their housing). Australia has a shortfall of housing supply, estimated at over 500,000 rental dwellings which are both affordable and available to the lowest income households. At the same time, the social housing system is struggling to cope with demand, with over 200,000 households on the waiting list for social housing.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), which is designed to alleviate poverty in the private rental sector, is also inadequate, with over 40 per cent of CRA recipients experiencing housing stress. Meanwhile, tax and planning policies continue to push housing prices beyond affordable levels.

Despite this situation, Australia has no national plan to tackle the housing affordability and homelessness crisis.  Deep and sustained reform is urgently needed on a number of fronts.

What we are calling for

In 2016, we released The Ache for Home report. This report outlines the dimensions of Australia’s housing crisis, provides a comprehensive housing and homelessness plan, and includes tangible policy recommendations for all levels of government. The key recommendations made to the Federal Government are:

  1.  The establishment of a $10 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund.
  2.  The preparation of a National Housing Plan.
  3.  The recognition of the human right to housing.
  4.  The setting of new targets to halve homelessness and halve the housing shortfall by 2025.

Tackling housing affordability and preventing (not just managing) homelessness is possible. However, it requires political leadership, committed funding, and a willingness to work across all levels of government.

The Commonwealth and state and territory governments have a number of programs in place, but they are proving inadequate to the task. The current National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) has ambitious goals to increase overall housing affordability, but has relatively few levers at its disposal to achieve these goals. The level of funding under NAHA has not kept up with demand, is not indexed, and lacks transparency and benchmarks for how states and territories spend the money.

Likewise, the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) has too few resources and faces an uncertain future. At present, the Commonwealth has committed to funding NPAH until June 2017. Vinnies has called on the Commonwealth to commit to adequate, indexed and long-term funding beyond 2017. 

In late 2014, Vinnies was disappointed to learn that three national peak bodies for housing and homelessness had their funding cut. Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter no longer receive federal funds. We call on the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, to reverse this decision and ensure the voice of people experiencing homelessness continues to be heard in the corridors of power in Canberra.  

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Read our submissions