$4.6 bil­lion to hous­ing and home­less over 3 years

Lo­cal MPs weigh in on new Na­tional Hous­ing and Home­less­ness Agree­ment

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS - By JARRAH LOH

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.”

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