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The housing crisis at the root of homelessness

Foundations headingThe growing visibility of rough sleepers in recent years is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. At the base of the problem is increasingly unaffordable housing, especially for people on low incomes. Not only is this placing larger numbers of Victorians into housing stress, but it raises the risk of homelessness amongst already vulnerable groups. For the fifth year in a row, consultations with frontline Salvation Army services across Victoria identified the lack of affordable housing options as the key problem facing people who sought our help.

As more and more people pay increasing proportions of their income on private rental, further separation appears between these struggling renters and those who are lucky enough to have secured a social housing tenancy where rents are capped. With more than 33,000 Victorians already on the public housing waiting list, and 22,000 homeless, the situation has become dire. 

Housing graph showing income support payments and rental costsThis graph shows that the median rental price for a one bedroom flat in metropolitan Melbourne exceeded the full amount of Newstart allowance in 2007. In March 2000, the median price for a 1 bedroom flat was 81 per cent of the Newstart Allowance in metropolitan Melbourne and 48 per cent in the rest of Victoria. By March 2017, it was 131 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

This housing crisis must be addressed with a clear strategy, measurable goals and a long-term vision. At the centre of this strategy, we need a commitment to add at least 3,000 new social housing properties each year for the next 30 years. That's the kind of vision that can put an end to homelessness.

For more detailed discussion about this issue, see The Salvation Army Victoria 2018-19 State Budget Submission.