Feds back off on strategy to end homelessness, but states pick up the pieces


A number of state government initiatives have been announced to support ending homelessness

Housing advocates have called the federal government’s refusal to develop a national homelessness strategy “deeply disappointing,” promising to try to end homelessness without federal leadership.

Calls for the development and implementation of a 10-year national strategy to end homelessness – something activists have long fought for – were at the center of recommendations made by the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness.

Nevertheless in a response on Friday, the Morrison government rejected the appeal, saying it would fully support only two of the 35 recommendations made by the bipartisan committee.

He put the responsibility back on the states saying that bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and individual states required states to have publicly available housing and homelessness strategies.

“This allows for flexible and targeted responses to better address homelessness compared to a centralized one-size-fits-all,” the report says.

Homelessness Australia chair Jenny Smith said the refusal was not just disappointing for vulnerable people in need of help, but also for homeless services across the country.

Smith said it was disappointing that another key recommendation to provide more housing money for women and children facing domestic violence was also rejected by the government.

“The government made no additional commitments, only outlining previous spending,” Smith said.

“Throughout its response, the federal government repeatedly tries to shift the blame for housing and homelessness onto the states and territories, but it’s clear that this national crisis requires a national response.”

“We will do the best we can”

Australian Alliance to End Homelessness CEO David Pearson said that while the Commonwealth’s refusal to back a national strategy was a “devastating blow” to the homelessness and housing sector, local and state governments were not about to sit down and take action. wait for action to be taken.

“We just have to show some leadership at the local level and not wait for the government to fix this…so we’re going to try,” Pearson told Pro Bono News.

“To end homelessness, we need to end homelessness for everyone in the community and that requires all levels of government to support that.

State and local governments are stepping up

Late last week, the South Australian government announced its commitment to ending homelessness by 2025.

He said he would achieve this by becoming a “vanguard state”, which refers to a global movement designed to help cities end homelessness by collecting data on who is actually experiencing homelessness. homelessness and what their needs are. This data is then used by community agencies to provide services such as housing, mental health support, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

The government will work closely with the South Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (SAAEH) to bring together a range of people and organizations already committed to ending homelessness in the state.

While the Australian cities of Adelaide and Sydney have already pledged as vanguard cities in previous years, this is the first time that an entire state has pledged to end homelessness. shelter, which Pearson called a “pivot.”

“Most of the strategies have the broad objective of reducing homelessness… so I guess what is important about this announcement is that it is the first time that an Australian Head of Government has committed to putting end homelessness on a certain date,” Pearson said.

Independent of South Australia’s announcement on Friday, the Victorian government announced a new inclusive zoning levy which is expected to raise around $800 million a year and fund the delivery of up to 1,700 new social and affordable housing units per year.

With 46.7% of Victorians receiving Commonwealth rent aid paying more than 30% of their income in rent in 2021, advocates welcomed the new initiative.

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