The Andrews Government should be congratulated on its ambitious social and affordable housing agenda, but more needs to be done for vulnerable young people – particularly those leaving the state care system, one of the state’s largest child welfare organisations said today.
Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said today’s announcement on plans to build around 80,000 homes a year across the next decade was historic.
“Along with the Andrew’s Government’s $5 billion investment in social and affordable housing under the Big Housing Build, this is an important step forward for a state where many people are currently being pushed out the bottom of the housing market,” Mr McDonald said.
“Anglicare Victoria’s Rental Affordability Snapshot earlier in the year showed almost no rental properties on the market were suitable and affordable for those relying on the minimum wage or welfare payments such as Jobseeker.”
Mr McDonald said while the announcement was positive, further support was needed for the vulnerable homeless young people not getting access to social housing or private rental stock in this state. In particular, young people leaving foster and residential care placements make up two thirds of our youth homeless population, who are exiting state care straight to couch surfing or a homeless shelter.
Victoria has now extended care to children until the age of 21 under the Home Stretch reform. While this once-in-a-generation change will deliver many benefits for young people leaving care, it will fall short of its potential without more housing stock for this group of young people.
“Without direct housing support by the government in line with the reforms to extend care to 21 years old, the gains in employment, health and wellbeing resulting from extended care may falter. Increasing the overall supply of social housing alone is not enough – targeted policy and dedicated housing allocation is essential to move the needle on this problem,” Mr McDonald said.
“Young people often emerge from care with no tenancy histories and few responsible adults they can turn to for help. Those under the age of 25 make up about a quarter of the country’s homeless population, yet only around 3 per cent of social housing is allocated to this extremely vulnerable group. We have to guarantee a housing pathway for this group, as they are struggling when fending for themselves,” he said.
“Every day young Australians are grappling with a housing crisis, sleeping rough and turning up at homeless breakfasts run by organisations like ours. Young Australians are living at home with their parents for longer and longer due to the rising cost of rent and the low vacancy rates across the country, but not everyone has this luxury.”