Every one of us has the right to a safe and stable home. A place to return to, to use as a base and foundation.
But in Victoria, it is becoming harder and harder to access safe, stable and affordable housing.
We know that in our state, almost 25,000 people are experiencing homelessness, and over 80,000 people are waiting for social housing – many of them children.
For many of the clients that our 48 community legal centres support, all roads lead back to a lack of suitable housing.
Women who have survived family violence often face unfair evictions, can’t make rent payments due to debts racked up by partners, or can’t access social housing due to long waitlists.
Victorians facing mental health crises can be discriminated against in private rentals and public housing, and deal with criminalisation when sleeping on our streets.
People leaving prison often exit directly into homelessness, and we are seeing a growing trend of women being refused bail because they have no home to go to.
So, what can the state government do to end homelessness in Victoria?
To begin with, government must:
Provide more public and community housing, and support tenants to stay in their homes. This means drastically increasing the number of homes available, and ensuring that people are supported to fight for their rights – whether they are in social housing or the private rental market.
Put wraparound supports in place for people at risk of becoming homeless. Survivors fleeing violence, people dealing with mental health issues, and those on low incomes should be supported to prevent the cycle of homelessness from starting.
Abolish laws that criminalise people who don’t have a home to go to. People experiencing homelessness need support, not punishment. Prison, fines and outdated laws are not the answer.
The Andrews government has an opportunity to ensure that every Victorian has a safe, stable and affordable home.
It’s time to end homelessness in Victoria, and get rid of laws that criminalise people who need support.