By ISABELLA MAROTTA
Victorian community organisations have called on governments to provide more housing and lift welfare payments in order to combat the nation’s growing homelessness problem.
The Communications and Marketing Director at Haven Home Safe, Sue Masters, said “a lack of affordable housing and a willingness of governments to invest” is a critical issue that the organisation encounters.
Ms Masters said homeless people cannot compete in the housing market as higher income earners continue to snap up rental properties and houses.
The Federal Government’s spending on social housing and homelessness between 2019-2020 is projected to be $1.56 billion.
But according to Homelessness Australia this target will represent a shortfall of $96 million in 2020.
In 2018, 6 per cent of rentals were affordable for low income earners in Melbourne, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Rental Report.
Jordan Comerford, an Initial Assessment and Planning worker at Launch Housing, said the Australian government needs to increase the Newstart welfare payment to an acceptable level to allow the homeless an opportunity to afford suitable housing.
The maximum fortnightly Newstart payment for someone who is single and has no children is $555.70, according to the Australian Department of Human Services.
“Inflation and the cost of living is increasing yet the payment hasn’t reflected these changes in society, so people are really struggling,” Mr Comerford said.