$4.6 billion to housing and homeless over 3 years
Local MPs weigh in on new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement
THE Mansfield Courier has been reporting on the homelessness problem in our community over the last month, and specifically about the severe problem of housing affordability and the lack of public housing.
But according to a recent report, the problem appears to be widespread around the country.
The 2016 Council of Australian Governments’ Report on Performance found that from 2009 to 2016, growth in social housing stock has stagnated and the numbers on waiting lists have increased.
It also confirmed that three out of four quality benchmarks previously agreed on had not, or were unlikely, to be met, despite the government providing the states with over $9 billion since 2009.
“Often people don’t even know about the public housing that is actually there – it is often hidden from the public,” said Cindy McLeish (MLA, Eildon).
She also noted that there are a lot of different ways to combat the homeless problem, and a one-fit solution is not necessarily the answer, as each community is unique.
“When I was a member for Seymour, there was quite a lot of public housing, but then not many wanted to relocate to there – different towns have different solutions and ways to help,” she said.
“Sometimes we have to think out of the box.
“For i nstance, at a football ground in the Upper Yarra, they always leave the umpires’ change rooms open and they have a whole lot of towels and soaps so people can use it.
“Another is the Healesville Hospital, which was built with a shower that is accessible to the outside, to help people cope a bit more.
“Obviously, it doesn’t cure the problem, but it helps and they are all trying to tackle the problem with new ideas.”
Due to the finding in the 2016 report, the government recently announced the Treasury Laws Amendment (National Housing and Homelessness Agreement) Bill 2017.
The new Bill is expected to be a new ‘primary housing agreement’, allowing the Commonwealth to make payments to the states and territories relating to housing, homelessness and housing affordability matters.
The agreement will provide funding from the 2018-19 financial year and will also combine existing funding already currently provided.
The Bill will ensure that Commonwealth funding for homelessness services continues beyond the end of the current agreement, which expires on June 30, 2018.
It has provision for $4.6 billion over three years of housing and homelessness funding to be paid to the states.
Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) said she will be consulting with the community following the introduction of the Bill.
“The legislation was introduced to Parliament last week, and we now have a period of time to consider it in detail,” Ms McGowan said.
“I will be consulting with local community groups and organisations as well as with industry.
“Homelessness has been an important issue in North East Victoria.
“I encourage people to get in contact with my office and share their views.”