More than 102,000 in #Australia seek homelessness help in just three months – decisive action is needed @Senat orLudlam

With more than 102,000 Australians seeking homelessness help in just three months – decisive action is needed

Australian Greens housing spokesperson Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam. 25 September 2012.

The Australian Greens today renewed their call for decisive action on homelessness with new figures showing more than 102,000 Australians sought help from homelessness agencies in just three months.

Greens housing spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also showed almost 20,000 people needed emergency accommodation in the first three months of 2012.

“We need decisive action to tackle homelessness now. Kevin Rudd’s White Paper on homelessness promised to halve it by 2020, but we need more than fine words. The sector has no certainty about funding from next year when the National Partnership on Homelessness expires – part of the National Affordable Housing Agreement that needs to be renegotiated.

"Homelessness Australia said the homelessness sector needs at least $1.2 billion just to continue providing existing programs and services beyond 2013. We give away at least double this amount every year to property investors who already own at least one house through negative gearing. The Government spends more on tax shelters than on real shelters.”

Senator Ludlam said action to increase the supply of affordable housing would reduce homelessness over the medium to long term.

“We need, for example, to see the announcement of another 50,000 National Rental Affordability Scheme incentives for new affordable rental dwellings. NRAS was launched in July 2008 and provided $1 billion of incentives over four years for 50,000 affordable rental properties. A further 50,000 incentives were promised from 2012 if demand was strong. It’s time to hold the Federal Government to this promise.”

Senator Ludlam said a ‘Convert To Rent’ programme would also help alleviate the crisis.

“For the past two years the Australian Greens have submitted our Convert to Rent housing initiative to Treasury for consideration. It involves grants of up to $21,000 to help landlords convert empty commercial space, shop-top rooms, and run-down homes into affordable rental housing. Recent figures showed one in ten residential properties in the Perth metropolitan area are empty. We made the case for $350 million, which would have resulted in 15,000 new affordable rental dwellings, but it was rejected.”

During the months of January, February and March this year, about 102,400 people were assisted by homelessness agencies nation-wide, and on any given night almost 18,600 clients were accommodated.

Media contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

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