Housing is on the national agenda this week with the National Housing Conference underway in Darwin.
Meanwhile support services in Ballarat are continuing their advocacy for an increase to the amount of local affordable housing stock.
Centacare Ballarat staff say an increasing number of people are struggling to secure housing in a competitive private rental market and housing supply is not meeting demand.
Australia's housing system is broken.Annette Kelly-Egerton, Uniting Ballarat
Centacare Ballarat general manager family and community services Deanna Davis said the organisation's work to provide interim accommodation and support to help people secure longer term tenancy was a 'daily struggle'.
"There just isn't the stock in the rental market available, particularly for those on lower incomes. It is really difficult," she said.
Centacare supported more than 598 people/ families during the last financial year to obtain housing or manage their existing accommodation through its advocacy service and crisis and transitional accommodation programs.
Ms Davis said Centacare was advocating for increased housing options for people on low incomes and more rental stock in Moorabool, Golden Plains and Hepburn Shire where there are few rental options.
"We are seeing more young people are experiencing homelessness but also those in the older age bracket at risk of losing their current accommodation. Family violence victims is another key increase we are seeing with women and children leaving the home and in need of accommodation," she said.
"We continue to look for opportunities to develop housing stock availability in our own housing arm, we continue to advocate for the need for clients and the continued benefit of the services that are funded.
"The key message is we need more homes for people."
Representatives from local housing services Centacare and Uniting are currently attending the National Housing Conference in Darwin, a platform for housing practitioners, policy makers and researchers to debate and promote impactful ideas and guide homelessness priorities.
The Courier spoke to Kate Colvin who presented at the conference on Tuesday with an update on national housing campaign Everybody's Home that is supported by Centacare and Uniting in Ballarat.
The campaign built a major presence prior to the federal election in support of a better, fairer housing system, calling for five key actions: support for first home buyers, a national housing strategy, a better deal for renters, immediate relief for people in chronic rental stress and a plan to end homelessness by 2030.
Ms Colvin said the campaign would continue with the backing of almost 200 organisations and 30,000 community supporters.
Watch the Everybody's Home campaign video below.
More than 2000 people have already sent emails to the Luke Howarth MP, the new federal Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services Minister, calling for him to commit to a national plan to end homelessness.
"It is only through the public supporting this kind of policy change, expressing their views to government and sharing how distressed people feel in the community about the level of homelessness and rent stress that I think government will make it a top priority," Ms Colvin said.
"We encourage you to join that. One of the best things you can do to end homelessness is be an active citizen and call on the government to make changes to end homelessness."
Ms Colvin said Mr Howarth was at the National Housing Conference and had expressed his openness to hearing from the community their priorities and ideas to end homelessness.
"I think we are at the beginning of an important dialogue with the new government," she said.
Meanwhile in Ballarat, there are currently 150 households on Uniting's priority housing wait lists. This includes around 128 children.
Uniting Ballarat executive officer Annette Kelly-Egerton said Australia's housing system was broken.
"It has caused a chronic shortage of affordable housing. This has created a homelessness crisis that's reaching record levels," she said.
"Uniting sees the impact of this crisis every day through our housing, homelessness and emergency relief services. Every year more people are having to turn to organisations like ours so they can access even the basics, like feeding their children and heating their homes."
In Victoria, only 3.5 per cent of the current housing stock is public housing.
To keep up with current population growth, Victoria must build 1800 dwellings per year to maintain its stock at that level - far below the 20 to 30 per cent recommended by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In the lead up to the November election last year, the Victorian Government promised to build 1000 new public houses in Victoria, including Ballarat, by 2022.
This year's budget included $209 million for the houses that will be built in Geelong and Ballarat, as well as the Darebin, Maribyrnong, Stonnington and Whitehorse council areas in Melbourne.
Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne said in a statement the project team was in the early stages of identifying project sites across all locations, including Ballarat.
"We look forward to making announcements about numbers and locations in the future," he said.
Along with many other community services and advocacy groups working together on the Everybody's Home campaign, Uniting Ballarat is asking for federal and state governments to:
- Increase public housing levels to 10 per cent of all housing stock
- Develop a national housing strategy for more low-cost rental properties to meet the demand for affordable housing
- Provide a better deal for renters to stop unfair rent increases and evictions, and give all renters the security they need
- Give immediate financial relief to Australians by increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance
- Commit to a plan to end homelessness by 2030
- Make home ownership more achievable to reduce pressure on the private rental market
Visit everybodyshome.com.au/ for more details of the campaign and to take action.