My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Housing, and my ask is that the minister immediately extends funding for Victorians experiencing homelessness who are currently housed by government programs in hotel and motel accommodation.
Right now, around 2000 Victorian households who are experiencing homelessness have been provided with hotel accommodation, giving them a safe place to stay during Melbourne’s lockdown.
However, with lockdown set to end in the coming weeks, the funding for the hotel accommodation is also set to wind up, and residents currently in hotel accommodation will once again be sent back into insecure housing and homelessness.
While I understand there is transition funding meant to help those in hotels transition to longer term housing, this funding is of no use if there are no affordable, secure homes for people to transition into.
And we know there are no options, because we have had a severe shortage of affordable housing in this state for decades. With the Labor government retreating from its responsibility for public housing and selling off and privatising our public housing stock, our housing crisis has only got worse.
Many of those currently living in hotel accommodation are worried that with no other options they will once again be referred to dangerous and unsafe rooming houses which are overcrowded and often in poor condition.
The Crisis in Crisis II report, published by the Northern and Western Homelessness Local Area Services Networks this weekend, reported that many crisis accommodation services are once again receiving increased demand for their services, far above the housing options they are able to provide.
This report is a successor to the 2019 report of the same name, which also highlighted the dire state of crisis accommodation in Victoria and demanded urgent action to increase the number of crisis beds and longer term affordable housing.
And while the report acknowledges that the hotel accommodation program has been a welcome change of pace, with longer term and secure funding and housing provided instead of the usual piecemeal provision of emergency accommodation, it also points out that there were still simply not be enough longer term housing options available to prevent people leaving the hotel program and returning to homelessness.
It is disappointing to be back in the same situation that we were in in 2019, or this time last year, where too many Victorians are being cut off from secure housing and, with no housing available except unsafe and substandard rooming housing, are left to return to dangerous living conditions.
The government’s response in 2020 and again this year showed that it is possible to end homelessness. All it takes is the government will to do it.
I ask that the minister find this will once again and immediately extend funding for Victorians experiencing homelessness who are currently housed by government programs in hotel and motel accommodation.