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Making clear decisions and social housing: the essentials to put an end to homelessness

A month ahead of the federal budget, which was just released last October 5th, 2020, a study conducted by peak body Homelessness revealed that there’s a great discrepancy between the number of homeless individuals in the nation and the available support the government can give. Simply put, the government is facing a problem that’s just beyond what they are ready for – for now. And with the virus, being still very much present, there is that question about what can we do to help those tremendously hit?

So many lives have been disrupted during this time of the pandemic. Homelessness, in particular, rose sharply which made so many community groups concerned. Actually, even before the pandemic happened, about 116,000 homeless Australians were already estimated while hundreds of thousands are facing rental stress. Truly, the problem is bigger than what we all had assumed.

All Australians are forced to spend more of their incomes on housing, which has caused so many to lose their homes. While it is true that mental health illnesses play such a huge role in homelessness, the number one cause of homelessness is still the lack of affordable housing. The fact that even decent residential properties are too expensive to afford by low-income earners is clear proof that this problem could potentially escalate even more.

It just seems like the homelessness issue will unavoidably go out of hand, but it’s a good thing that there is a collective effort that led to creating programs to house those who are rough sleeping and without a permanent place to stay. Australia is in an induced recession due to the effects of the coronavirus.

One of the ways the federal government is providing aid is the recently announced $150 million funding allotted to support the homeless. About 7,000 individuals were placed in hotels and accommodation. However, while temporary housing is much needed, the real challenge lies in efforts to produce long-term solutions.

The truth is, there is not enough social housing that could house the vulnerable. In the past 20 years, we have seen very little investment in social housing – and this should not have been the case. The effects of COVID-19 changed so many lives. If there’s one good thing that came out of this, it is how it forced the governments to conduct a “housing first” approach and opened the doors to solve the problem.

According to a recent report, Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, and the Community Housing Industry Association called for the federal government to “invest $7.7 billion to upgrade existing housing, purchase new sites and develop new housing complexes.” They added that their proposal would build 30,000 homes and generate 18,000 jobs each year in construction. The groups also claim the program would boost Australia’s GDP by between $5.8 billion and $6.7 billion.

The federal budget released has its focus more on the tax cuts for middle-income workers and infrastructure spending as catalysts to the economy’s recovery. But the vulnerable mustn't be left behind. The federal government provided an additional $1 billion through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation to support the construction of affordable housing, however, it is not enough to support the proposed budget for social housing.

It is indeed understandable that due to the effects of the pandemic, the budget should be focused largely to get Australians back to work, there is still a need to do more for those who need it the most. Housing subsidies are expensive and government resources are scarce. Making clear and hard decisions is a must to solve this problem – and to do most out of what is available.

Xotel recognizes that we all need to play a part in putting an end to homelessness. Affordable housing is our solution. Check out our website and social media pages for more information.

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