No longer seen as an issue only for the inner city, the growing issue of homelessness is being felt in the suburbs of Melbourne’s east and south east, where nearly half of the state’s social housing waiting list are based.
The City of Casey is joining forces with partner Councils in the region in a collective effort to address homelessness, by signing up to the Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter at its Council meeting on Tuesday 21 July.
The purpose of this charter is the provision of housing as the critical first step to addressing the often complex social and health needs of homeless people. It was developed following a forum initiated by Monash Council with stakeholders across the region uniting for action on social housing.
City of Casey Chair of Administrators Ms Noelene Duff PSM explains that Council’s “wholehearted support of a regional framework for action is very high priority.”
“On behalf of the Administrators, we understand there is no quick fix to homelessness,” Ms Duff said.
“More than 44,000 households are waiting for social housing and 40 per cent of those are in the East/South East region.
“This is why a collective effort is required across the region, by each Council and in the State and Federal Government context, to make meaningful change.
“We are seeing the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is continuing to hit the most vulnerable in our community, including those who until recently had employment and homes, but are now requiring assistance.”
At the Council meeting, the Administrators heard 4,065 individuals had accessed homelessness services in Casey, the second-highest number of any municipality in Victoria.
One of Casey’s homeless support agencies Wayss has been part of Council’s advocacy efforts to the State Government for more social housing options since the initial COVID-19 restrictions.
Wayss CEO Ms Liz Thomas predicts the upcoming lifting of temporary rental relief and banning of evictions will signal a potential crisis for families across the City of Casey.
“We know pressures on households are escalating in this environment of COVID-19 restrictions and we are seeing an increase in vulnerable families seeking support,” Ms Thomas stated.
“Safe, appropriate accommodation options will give local displaced families the security they need, so that Wayss can continue to support them to live safe and stable lives.”
The campaign for Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter is expected to begin late August when all Councils in the region have had the chance to consider and endorse the Charter.
Council’s endorsement of the charter comes ahead of National Homelessness Week, which is from 2-8 August. The theme of this year’s campaign is Everybody Needs a Home.