How the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door to solve the homelessness problem in Australia
Affluent nations have been battling such a widespread problem that not only does affect the physical aspect but the emotional and mental as well – homelessness. For years the homelessness problem has become so difficult to crack and seemingly just flat out impossible to solve. The pandemic and homelessness are very much connected. In Melbourne, where it is considered to be the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus, communities were hit pretty hard and homeless people had it much worse.
The state government has supported the homeless since the beginning of the pandemic, which was in March. About 2,000 homeless individuals were able to stay at hotels and temporary accommodation courtesy of the government’s initiative. The project was to get 7,000 homeless off the streets thus, the $150 million funding support for those who need it was allotted.
Housing is a human right – and everyone deserves a decent and stable place to call home. However, there are factors why not everyone gets to afford one. Days leading up to the lockdown, there was a massive emergency operation to get people off the streets, most especially those who have no permanent place to stay. If there is one thing not a lot of people realize until now, is that the homelessness problem has really evolved into something much more problematic. It was only when the lockdown became mandatory that it actually became more clear.
The pandemic has caused so many disruptions and losses in our daily lives, but if we are to look at a silver lining, it’s the fact that for the first time, the government was able to successfully place long-term rough sleepers into permanent accommodation. The COVID-19 pandemic can take credit for somehow proving that the homelessness problem can be solved.
According to a recent study, the number of people that have been placed in more permanent accommodation has had a life-changing experience after being out on the streets for so long. The numbers are incredible. For instance, in New South Wales, every year there are about 200 people who receive accommodation but due to the pandemic, 100 people have been successfully transitioned off the streets since April. People who have been rough sleeping have been offered shelter and so far, it’s impacted the nation for the better.
But what happens when the pandemic is over?
Now that the regulations are starting to ease out, those who have received support are wondering what’s next for them. The state government has extended the shelter program for homeless Victorians until next April. This measure will surely save so many lives and outreach workers are more than pleased to learn about this news.
While yes, many have been offered shelter, the truth is, there is much more that needs to be done. The number one thing to do is that it needs to be sustained. It may sound easy but fulfilling it is incredibly challenging. Any measures to help those who need shelter are temporary because the pandemic pretty much forced the hand of the authorities to make a move. It is a big problem but the solution is pretty simple – to give people homes.
Associate Professor of Sociology at Monash University, Dr. Steven Roberts says, “The starting point here is that housing is an inalienable human right. The next part of making sure all people have a home is a strong and sustained commitment to affordable, social housing. And bound up with all this is the need for a massive public education campaign. For far too long, people experiencing homelessness have been stigmatised.”
Unfortunately, it had to take a pandemic to make authorities realize that this problem is actually solvable. Private organizations and outreach program workers are joining together to provide aid to the homeless. Xotel, will continue to partner with them to ensure that affordable and safe housing can and will be provided. For more information, check out our Social Media pages.