Image: West Footscray Neighbourhood House

News Analysis

Youth homelessness funding welcome, but where are housing policies?

The Minister for Housing, The Hon. Wendy Lovell MLC, today announced that if re-elected, the Coalition government would provide an additional $6 million to Kids Under Cover for its programs to address youth homelessness. Kids Under Cover, a VCOSS member organisation, runs an integrated youth homelessness support organisation comprising their studio, scholarship and mentoring programs.

The studio program offers young people fully relocatable Studios (with bathroom) constructed on the grounds of the family/carer’s home. This allows families to stay connected, giving them extra room to live and providing the young person with a safe, secure and stable environment to grow into healthy adulthood. The promised funding would allow Kids Under Cover to assist an additional 200 young people.

This is a welcome announcement in an election campaign that, so far, has made little mention of policies for housing and homeless. While promising funding for Kids Under Cover is a welcome step, there are over 22,000 people homeless in Victoria, of who around 10,000 are under the age of 25 and 5,000 children under 12. At the same time, more than 100,000 low-income households are experiencing rental stress.

So far, neither of the major parties has released a housing and homelessness policy statement for the election, and we call on both parties to provide their housing policies before the State Election on November 29, now only 2 weeks away. As Terry Bourke, Professor of Housing Studies at Swinburne University of Technology writes in our State Election Edition of VCOSS Insight:

“This is the moment to ask politicians whether this is the sort of housing environment Australia wants, not just for equity reasons, but because of the growing evidence that inequities can affect long term economic productivity and social cohesion.”

VCOSS, in our State Election Platform, has outlined a strategy for Victoria to help provide secure and affordable housing for every Victorian. By committing to a $200 million annual fund for social housing expansion and redevelopment, along with increase security of tenure for private renters and introduction of homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing and permanent supporting housing programs, we can make real progress on providing all Victorians with a safe and affordable home.