Modern Australian

Eliminating most homelessness is achievable. It starts with prevention and 'housing first'

  • Written by Angela Spinney, Lecturer/Research Fellow in Housing and Urban Studies, Swinburne University of Technology

The stereotype of a homeless person – those living in tents or sleeping in parks or doorways – is just the visible tip of the much larger crisis of homelessness in Australia.

For every one of about 8,000 “rough sleepers” there about 14 others staying in temporary accommodation or with others in severely crowded dwellings. That’s a total of more than 116,000 homeless Australians, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics census data.

About 60% are under the age of 35, though the number of homeless aged 55 and older has been steadily increasing. About a quarter are women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Eliminating most homelessness is achievable. It starts with prevention and 'housing first' CC BY-SA The causes of homelessness are complex. The sterotype is that it involves mental illness and substance addiction. But the more common denominators are poverty, unemployment and a lack of affordable adequate housing. Whatever the cause, research by myself and colleagues for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute proposes a path forward to reduce, and even eliminate, homelessness in Australia. To do so requires moving away from treating the problem in an uncoordinated manner at the point of crisis and investing in an integrated system that prioritises prevention, fast rehousing and an adequate supply of affordable long-term housing. Read more: Homelessness soars in our biggest cities, driven by rising inequality since 2001 A historical legacy Australia’s existing approach to dealing with homelessness is the legacy of a response originating in the 19th century, long before the advent of the modern welfare state, relying on charitable institutions to pick up the pieces of an economic system failing to care for the most vulnerable. This has resulted in a somewhat chaotic system of small-scale and often disconnected services that are funded to only put a band-aid on the problem. It is mainly oriented towards crisis responses, with limited resources devoted to responding to homelessness once it has occurred, often only providing temporary relief from homelessness. Federal, state and territory governments provide about A$250 million a year in funding to the 1,500 not-for-profit “specialist homelessness services” – organisations such as Launch Housing and Vincent Care – to provide support services and short-term accommodation in refuges, hostels, motels and caravan parks. But this is insufficient to achieve the aim of even providing temporary accommodation to all those in need. Homeless services turn away almost 60% of those who ask for help. People instead have to rely on the kindness of family and friends, or sleep in their cars or on the street, while they wait to receive assistance. There is no statutory duty to provide assistance to homeless people in Australia. The status quo is an expensive and unsatisfactory approach. We can do much better. Read more: If we realised the true cost of homelessness, we'd fix it overnight Housing comes first An emerging trend internationally is to reorient homelessness service systems away from a largely crisis response and towards prevention and long-term solutions. The key is a “Housing First” approach, investing resources into first getting people into long-term accommodation, and then providing support to address the reasons they found themselves homeless in the first place. Once housing is secured, relevant support workers can then support clients with particular needs, from preparing for employment, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, negotiating the legal system arising from domestic and family violence, and psychiatric or psychological counselling. Evidence to the superiority of the “Housing First” approach comes from Norway. Over the past 12 years the number of homeless Norwegians has fallen by more than 35%. This compares with Australia’s approach, which in the past 20 years has managed to only marginally reduce the number of rough sleepers while other categories of homelessness have continued to rise. We need an integrated strategy A clear deficiency in Australia’s approach to homelessness has been the lack of any integrated national strategy and leadership. This means funding arrangements in states and territories are piecemeal and inadequate. The first step in moving to a “Housing First” approach is coordinated federal and state funding for an adequate supply of affordable and social housing. Eliminating most homelessness is achievable. It starts with prevention and 'housing first' Australian Bureau of Statistics, Author provided As we outline in our new report Ending homelessness in Australia: A redesigned homelessness service system, an integrated national strategy would also include an enhanced role for universal welfare services such as primary health services, schools and colleges to assist people at risk of homelessness. They would have a duty to prevent homelessness when possible, assisting clients to maintain their existing housing or to access new housing. Where this is not possible, they would refer clients to specialist housing services for assistance finding crisis accommodation, and then long-term housing. In this system, providing crisis accommodation would be the solution of last resort. That affordable housing is the first step in solving homelessness may seem startlingly obvious. But, counterintuitively, that’s not the premise of how the current system works. Read more: Victoria's $5.4bn Big Housing Build: it is big, but the social housing challenge is even bigger We cannot stress enough how much an adequate planned supply of long-term affordable and social housing that is appropriate, secure and safe is vital to any successful attempt to end homelessness.

Authors: Angela Spinney, Lecturer/Research Fellow in Housing and Urban Studies, Swinburne University of Technology

Read more https://theconversation.com/eliminating-most-homelessness-is-achievable-it-starts-with-prevention-and-housing-first-151182

NEWS

Everything You Need to Know about 5G Technology

Smartphone users today want faster data speeds, accompanied by more accessible services. 5G, the Next Generation of wireless networks claims to extend the same and much more. 5G allows users...

As Joe Biden prepares to become president, the US still reels from the deadly consequences of 'alternative facts'

Every four years on January 20, the US exercises a key tenant of democratic government: the peaceful transfer of power. This year, the scene looks a bit different.If the last...

Forget about the trade spat – coal is passé in much of China, and that's a bigger problem for Australia

Greg Baker/APAustralian coal exports to China plummeted last year. While this is due in part to recent trade tensions between Australia and China, our research suggests coal plant closures are...

Morrison government drops the ball on banking reform

Political pressure forced the federal government in 2017 – when Scott Morrison was treasurer – to call the royal commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services sector.Commissioner...

The Rise and Fall of Saint George shows the transformative power of music

Bianca De Marchi/Sydney FestivalThe Rise and Fall of Saint George is a story about place, belonging and community that taps into universal tensions of identity and faith in multicultural societies...

why people can hold political views that disadvantage their own sex

The views of women and men can differ on important gendered issues such as abortion, gender equity and government spending priorities. Surprisingly, however, average differences in sex on this front...

is it safe for kids to go back to school? And what about the new mutant strain?

A year ago, in late January 2020, Australia reported its first cases of COVID-19. Since then, we have seen almost 29,000 confirmed cases and 909 deaths. As cases climbed in...

Not feeling motivated to tackle those sneaky COVID kilos? Try these 4 healthy eating tips instead

ShutterstockIn Australia and around the world, research is showing changes in body weight, cooking, eating and drinking patterns associated with COVID lockdowns.Some changes have been positive, such as people cooking...

The Conversation's submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into the News Media Bargaining Code

BongkarnGraphic/ShutterstockOn 10 December 2020, the Australian Senate established an inquiry into a government bill proposing a ‘mandatory bargaining code’ between news media organisations and digital platforms including Google and Facebook...

Trumpism doesn't end with Trump — NZ needs to take a firmer stand against a global threat to democracy

America is currently experiencing its worst political and constitutional crisis since the civil war when the very survival of Abraham Lincoln’s government “of, by and for the people” was at...

older, underinsured and overexposed to cyclones, storms and disasters

News of storms battering parts of Queensland and the threat posed by Cyclone Kimi reminded me of a recent experience I’d had.A few months after Cyclone Marcus unleashed havoc on...

The economy can't guarantee a job. It can guarantee a liveable income for other work

When the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia in March 2020, the Morrison government took bold and imaginative action. The most notable examples were its income support programs – JobKeeper, paying a...



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion













Popular articles from Modern Australian

Importance of Texture and Layering in Interior Design3 Ways Your Drains Become Blocked 5 Reasons for No Power at HomeHow Is Tequila Made?Why You Should Enlist The Services Of A Property StylistTop Luxury Resorts For A Restorative Staycation In AustraliaUnderstanding Employee Car Allowance Rates in Australia7 Bucket-List Worthy Experiences in DubaiThe Effects of Pollen Throughout the Year What Qualifications Are Required to Work as a Chef in Australia?How You Can Create A Café With A Shipping ContainerA Few Great Uses For Laundry DetergentHow To Make Living With Housemates SimplerGreat Tips For Buying Flowers For Valentine’s Day Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series Becomes The Fastest Sports Car