Basic housing is a human right
In response to recent reports and letters in the Sound Telegraph regarding the proposed change of use for Penola House to community use (Homeless accommodation, 26/9), I would like to air my thoughts.
I believe that basic housing is a human right and that access to secure housing is a key factor to good health as well as being an essential precondition for social participation.
Ending homelessness has many benefits, not just to those who find a home but also to the wider community and to government.
Alarmingly, however, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census data revealed a 4.6 per cent increase in the rate of homelessness over the five-year period.
Homelessness affects many Australians. According to the Census data around one in every 200 people in Australia are homeless, with significant increases over the past five years in the number of older Australians experiencing homelessness.
Using linked health and housing data from WA, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute research published in 2016 found that providing housing for priority homeless clients was associated with a greatly reduced use of health services in the following year.
This resulted in a potential cost saving of $16.4 million per year — or $4846 per person per year — to the WA health system.
Cost savings resulting from this successful housing and homelessness program allowed for more resources to be freed up in the health system to meet the needs for all.
There is much to gain in economic and social terms, both for government and society, by assisting the homeless.
This is because if homeless individuals find stable accommodation they require less healthcare and they are more likely to reconnect with employment and education.
With the Federal Government having slashed funding to homelessness programs over recent years it is comforting to see organisations like St Patrick’s stepping up to the plate.