More needs to be done for homeless
by The Age.
2nd June 2019

It’s simply not acceptable that homelessness is rising in a nation so prosperous. We don’t lack the wealth. We know which policies work best to simultaneously deal with homelessness and some of its key causes – particularly mental illness, family violence and substance misuse.

We know from international experience that the most cost-effective way to solve homelessness is to give the chronically homeless a home. We see the daily evidence of the suffering and despair caused by having no safe place to live. We know that this is not an abstract reality – these are people in our communities, families and localities.

Our long advocacy for increased services the homeless is not just based on compassion, but on rational economics. This approach is not only successful, but cost-effective. It saves the community a fortune in crisis services. It saves lives.

The federal government made headway 10 years ago, fuelled by the $6.1 billion worth of affordable housing built as part of the economic stimulus under Kevin Rudd. Thousands of community housing units came on the market – but then the funding dried up, even as the demand escalated.

In the past 15 years, the proportion of homeless people living in capital cities has surged from 48 per cent to 63 per cent, according to analysis for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.