Business Daily Media

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[1], 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[2].

Eliminating most homelessness is achievable. It starts with prevention and 'housing first' CC BY-SA[3] 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[4] 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[5] 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[6] 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%[7] 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[8] 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[9] the number of homeless Norwegians has fallen by more than 35%. This compares with Australia’s approach, which in the past 20 years[10] 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[11], 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[12] 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

Business Today

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make the company one of the largest buyers of ...

What you need to know about the Defense Production Act – the 1950s law Biden invoked to try to end the baby formula shortage

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of baby formula. AP Photo/David J. PhillipU.S. President Joe Biden on May 18, 2022, announced he is invoking the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of ...

Baby formula industry was primed for disaster long before key factory closed down

Cities are trying to address the baby formula shortage with community drives.AP Photo/David J. PhillipThe conditions that led to a shortage of baby formula were set in motion long before the February 2022 closure of the Similac fa...

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual workspace more comfortable. Employees are ...

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’s sovereign capabilities toward in-space...

Deliver business benefits through operational excellence

As Australian businesses emerge from the pandemic lockdowns and draw up plans for growth, increasing numbers are adopting a strategy of operational excellence. Operational excellence involves everyone in an organisation and f...

Business Daily Media Business Development

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make t...

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual wo...

David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra - avatar David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’...

Business Daily Media - avatar Business Daily Media

India's employee hostels are often like prisons – but young women garment workers don't always see it that way

Kavitha, 18, earns a living at a clothing factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Like many of her colleagues, she lives in accommodation provided by the factory, where she share...

Andrew Crane, Professor of Business and Society, University of Bath - avatar Andrew Crane, Professor of Business and Society, University of Bath

Shortage of workers threatens UK recovery – here’s why and what to do about it

For the first time since records began, there are more job vacancies in the UK than unemployed people, according to the latest monthly labour market figures. This has been driven mainly by a...

Donald Houston, Professor of Economic Geography, University of Portsmouth - avatar Donald Houston, Professor of Economic Geography, University of Portsmouth

A central bank digital euro could save the eurozone – here's how

Blockchain bailout?4K_HeavenThe European Central Bank and its counterparts in the UK, US, China and India are exploring a new form of state-backed money built on similar online ledger techno...

Guido Cozzi, Professor of Macroeconomics, University of St.Gallen - avatar Guido Cozzi, Professor of Macroeconomics, University of St.Gallen



NewsServices.com

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion