Adjournment: Permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Housing, and the action I seek is that the minister ensures everyone leaving temporary hotel accommodation is offered safe, secure and long-term accommodation.
The Greens were very pleased to see the government take action to protect Victorians experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, housing rough sleepers in hotel and motel accommodation over the course of this year. As well as providing people with a safe place to stay during the worst of the pandemic, the secure accommodation meant many residents were able to access proper support for the first time.
But while the government promised the funding for the hotel accommodation program would extend until April next year, we have heard worrying reports that people are already beginning to be evicted from their temporary accommodation. And we’ve heard that many of these people are being asked to return to dangerous and unsafe accommodation, like rooming houses, instead of the long-term rental accommodation that was promised.
Victoria’s response to the pandemic showed us that it is possible for us to end homelessness in our state, by investing in the model that works—giving people a safe place to live, securing long-term housing for everyone who needs it, and making support services available.
So it is disappointing that this government is not prepared to build on the good work and progress made over the past eight months, and instead we are finding people experiencing homelessness returned to the status quo, back to housing providers struggling to find appropriate accommodation, people potentially going back to the street instead of the dodgy unacceptable rooming houses being offered up.
It is not only the responsibility of housing organisations to ensure people have secure accommodation to move into when they leave hotel accommodation. It’s also the responsibility of the government to provide enough funding for homelessness services, and enough housing options, like public housing, for everyone.
But the reality is there is just not enough public housing or indeed community housing available to house everyone who needs a home. And while the government’s recent budget announcement is finally committing to building more housing after decades of neglect, we are also seeing the continuation of the government’s retreat from public housing. And it is now shifting the buck onto homelessness organisations to support people to transition out of temporary hotel accommodation.
We absolutely cannot allow people in hotel accommodation to be evicted back onto the streets or into dangerous and unsafe rooming houses. It is not good enough to say that there are no other options, and that people must accept the accommodation that is offered to them, when the accommodation on offer is clearly unsuitable and unsafe. When our housing crisis is a product of the failures of this government, our government must be doing everything it can to ensure everyone is offered a safe place to call home as they exit hotel accommodation.
I ask the minister to ensure that everyone leaving hotel accommodation is offered long-term safe and secure accommodation, and that nobody exits into homelessness or insecure housing.