Homelessness rate increase due to lack of social housing

Traralgon CBD. file photograph
Traralgon CBD. file photograph

More than 1300 applications have been made in the inner Gippsland region for social housing which represents a five per cent growth in nine months, according to data from the Council to Homeless Persons.

The data comes from analysis of the Victorian Housing Register ahead of national Homelessness Week, which runs from August 6-12, and shows the wait list grew by 62 applications in nine months from 1273 to 1335.

Inner Gippsland covers the local government areas of Baw Baw, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Bass Coast.

The analysis revealed there were 480 priority applications in the region, up from 455 the previous year which is an increase of more than five per cent increase.

Gippsland Homelessness Network coordinator Chris McNamara said the limited supply of affordable and social housing was one of the multiple challenges that made homelessness difficult to resolve for both clients and services.

"We not only need to prevent homelessness but to end homelessness and to do this we need more affordable homes for those on a low income," Ms McNamara said.

"The key causes of homelessness in Gippsland are financial difficulties, lack of supply of affordable housing, family violence, family breakdown and eviction from a current rental property.

"We need 3000 social housing properties built every year for the next 10 years in Victoria."

Ms McNamara 6220 people across Gippsland presented to specialist homelessness services from 2015-16, 38 per cent of which were homeless and 62 per cent at risk of homelessness.

"Latrobe had the highest rate of homelessness in Gippsland. In the 2016 census there were 226 people identified as homeless in Latrobe, up from the 2011 census where there was 183," she said.

"Another grouping is those in marginal housing or overcrowded or improvised dwellings.

"Of that group, there are 51 [people] in overcrowded dwellings ... another seven in improvised dwellings and 17 in caravans."

Data from a Department of Health and Human Services report revealed there were just 35 one-bedroom rentals in all of Latrobe that would be affordable for someone on a low income.

"The median for a two-bedroom house in Morwell is $195, which means that even if you're living in a share house you'll be paying more than 30 per cent of your income on rent, leaving you in housing stress," a Council to Homeless Persons spokeswoman said.

Council to the Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith said the numbers revealed there were many children, elderly people and women languishing in temporary accommodation, rooming houses or on couches "because we simply don't have enough social housing".

"While the current Victorian government has started reinvesting in new social housing, these demand figures indicate the pace of investment needs to be increased," she said.

"Every Victorian deserves a stable, affordable home so they can raise a family, stay in school, keep a job and achieve their potential."

Gippsland Homelesness Network and Council to Homeless Persons are encouraging people to support the national Everybody's Home campaign.

For more information visit everybodyshome.com.au.