What’s in the 2020-21 Budget for homelessness?
In a time of insecurity and anxiety among many of the most vulnerable in Australian society, our team at Mobilise is disappointed that Budget 2020-21 has failed to provide a comprehensive framework to address housing insecurity and homelessness.
In fact, more than $41 million will be slashed from national housing and homelessness funding in 2021-22.
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey remarked that “prioritising ending homelessness in Australia still isn’t being taken seriously at a national level”. I think that statement speaks volumes of the disconnect between policy and what people are experiencing across Australia this year. The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement in 2018 represented a significant step forward for policy and many families will be losing sleep seeing funding stripped from this portfolio. Here at Mobilise, we’re particularly concerned with where the funding will be cut from, with remote Indigenous housing in NT and QLD likely to take a significant hit.
Social housing in remote, regional and urban areas represents a significant area for investment to be addressed in the budget. Analysis from the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and National Shelter showed that investing in a four-year social house building program of 30,000 homes will create up to 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs a year. This was supported by industry and community groups including the Australian Council for Social Services and trade unions. Despite these calls for investment in housing there has been a failure to plan for the future of low-income Australian families. There is an urgent need for more social housing in Australia as families find themselves under increasing rental stress with reduced income support, loss of employment and an end to the moratorium on evictions all looming over their heads.
Impact of COVID-19 on Renters
The impact of this year on renters has been unimaginable, with AHURI finding in their “Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts” report that there is significant distress and hardship among Australian renters.
· One third of tenants said they struggled to make ends meet or had skipped meals.
· Just over 60% had experienced some change their employment or income.
· Approximately a third expected they would require further support in the next 12 months.
· And there was generalised concern among respondents in regard to what would happen when [JobSeeker and JobKeeper] temporary payments ceased.
Where to from here?
The writing is on the wall. Homelessness services are under enormous strain, with 253 people turned away every day last year. Renters are in distress and they are unsure of how they will continue to live with a roof over their heads in 2021. And let’s not forget, homelessness is increasing in Australia, with a 13.7% rise between 2011 and 2016. In a time where the government was required to step up and provide a framework and appropriate funding for housing and homelessness in Australia - they have failed to do so.
This disappointing result for the sector highlights the importance of grassroots efforts and volunteering to continue to drive the change for people experiencing homelessness in Australia. Now, when support and funding are being wound back, is the time when people need to get out on the streets, sit down with people experiencing homelessness and give them a chance to speak about their experience. If we keep sharing these stories, and work collaboratively to get this message across to the federal government, then we can change the face of homelessness in Australia. Because in a country as lucky as ours, nobody should be sleeping on the streets.
On behalf of Mobilise