This Homelessness Week 2020 (3 to 8 August) we want to shine a light on this incredibly important issue that affects thousands of people in Australia, including Maroondah residents.
On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are experiencing homelessness.
The latest data from Homelessness Australia shows that almost 4000 people are experiencing homelessness within the Eastern Metropolitan Area.
In Maroondah, the suburbs of Ringwood, Ringwood East and Croydon represent the highest number of people experiencing homelessness.
Many of them are Melbourne’s ‘hidden homeless’, people who live temporarily with others but who aren’t guaranteed permanent, private and secure housing.
The theme for Homelessness Week 2020 (#HW2020) is ‘Everybody Needs a Home’.
Homelessness Week gives people the opportunity to think about what having a home means to those of us who have a home and to consider what it might be like for those who don’t.
The week also provides the chance for those who are concerned about the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Victoria to take action.
Maroondah City Council facilitates the Maroondah Emergency Relief Network – a group of agencies who play a direct role in supporting those who are experiencing disadvantage, homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Council also has a strong partnership with Wellways which runs the assertive outreach ‘Pathways to Home’ program. The program engages with people experiencing homelessness by supporting them to connect with their community and connect them with the services they need.
Mayor Councillor Mike Symon said the plight of homelessness is a significant local issue.
“Changes in the housing market and an increased demand for affordable housing in Maroondah are two key issues impacting our local community,” Cr Symon said.
“The increased demand for food, shelter and hygiene services in Maroondah since the emergence of COVID-19 has also prompted Council to bring together local relief agencies and establish a new partnership model to ensure essential services can continue to be delivered within the confines of the COVID-19 measures,” he said.
“Council is committed to advocating for improved housing affordability and we continue to work closely with our local service providers to ensure that our most vulnerable community members are supported during this pandemic.
“Homelessness Week brings exposure to the plight of people experiencing homelessness and the solutions which can help them,” Cr Symon said.
Eastern Homelessness Network Coordinator Jo McDonald said the organisation used the week as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issues driving homelessness in the eastern region, including how Australia’s housing affordability crisis had created a shortage of affordable options for people on low incomes.
She said close to 18,000 people sought the assistance of homelessness and crisis services in Melbourne’s east in 2019/20. While services continue to adapt to the “new normal” under COVID-19 restrictions, they are seeing more and more people presenting due to stresses caused by the pandemic and fear that it will only get worse in the coming months.
Homelessness Australia Chair Jenny Smith says that while the full economic impacts of COVID-19 are yet to be fully realised, it is clear that demand for housing that people on lower incomes can afford will only increase as more people lose their jobs and experience rent stress.
During the pandemic, homelessness services have accommodated over 340 households in hotels and motels across Melbourne’s eastern region.
The EHN welcomes the Victorian Government’s recent announcement to extend the funding of this program until April 2021. However, as the lockdown continues, the value of a safe, secure home has become even more obvious.
Victoria alone needs at least 6,000 properties a year for 10 years to meet the need for social housing. That’s why, this Homelessness Week, the EHN is encouraging everyone to join the Everybody Needs a Home campaign
The Council to Homeless Persons has compiled a list of activities that are happening online to recognise Homelessness Week 2020.
To find out how you can get involved, visit the Council to Homeless Persons website
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, please call 1800 825 955 to be connected to your closest entry point.