Vinnies Queensland urges Government to avoid a homelessness crisis
Vinnies Queensland urges Government to avoid a homelessness crisis by reconsidering a greater investment in social housing following the Budget announcement.
St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) Queensland encourages the Palaszczuk Government to escalate its investment in social housing, saying the $526.2 million commitment for 2020/21 is “a good start, but not enough.”
“This equates to only 1,644 homes if the entire $526.2 million was committed to constructing social houses,” said CEO Kevin Mercer, citing that the national average cost to build a home is $320,000 in 2020.
“This falls short of the 8,750 homes needed each year for the next 20 years to offer a dignified response, ensuring every Queenslander has a safe place to sleep.
“We are facing a social housing crisis, and in turn, a homelessness crisis unless a meaningful and long-term investment is made in social and affordable housing.”
Prior to COVID-19, the state faced a significant homelessness problem with 9 out of the 20 national homelessness hotspots in Queensland, coupled with an 84% increase in requests for government housing support from May to July 2020.
“The Queensland commitment is less than 9% of the $6 billion investment Victoria has made to build more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes over four years, and to upgrade existing public housing,” said the CEO.
“If we don’t act now, more people will fall through the cracks with rising levels of both unemployment and underemployment.
In the recent Labour Force report, 39,800 full time jobs have been lost over the last 12 months and unemployment has increased by over 40,000. Job creation has been for part time roles, adding to the underemployment problem.
“We need a greater response now,” added Mr Mercer.
“Social housing creates jobs in construction and jobs in the social services sector, importantly a predominately female workforce, and reduces the burden on welfare as it costs the taxpayer less to house someone than to have them live on the streets.”
Furthermore, Mr Mercer said an alarming 38 per cent of applicants on the housing waitlist are families with children who would be “considerably impacted” as a result of limited investment.
“We know there’s a direct correlation between a lack of social housing and homelessness, and vulnerable children are the worst affected.
“The impacts of homelessness on children are dire – it affects mental health, emotional and behavioural stability, leads to food insecurity and overall, adverse health and education outcomes.”
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland supported over 279,000 Queenslanders last year including over 21,000 homeless, provided housing and crisis accommodation for over 181,000 nights, and $3.7 million in food support including food parcels and vouchers to those in financial stress.
Vinnies Queensland has provided $9.6 million in direct emergency assistance, $7 million through disaster assistance for bushfire, drought and COVID-19, and overall $272 million in services and support through Vinnies Queensland, Vinnies Housing and Ozcare in the last financial year.