NSW must match federal homelessness funding and target services to meet urgent needs

The Greens have called on all parties in NSW to commit to matching the Federal Government’s two-year additional funding allocation to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and to ensure the funds will be allocated to address areas of greatest need and fill service gaps resulting from last year’s reforms to the homelessness sector.

Jan Barham, the Greens’ Housing and Homelessness spokesperson, said: “Homelessness is a priority issue that deserves more than a 2 year continuation of funding.

“Addressing and preventing homelessness needs a 10 year cooperative plan across all levels of government, but the Federal Government’s commitment at least provides some continuity for a sector that was facing uncertainty about the future of many services.

“We now need urgent clarification as to whether the next NSW Government will match the funds as required in the partnership model and where those funds will be spent.

“We cannot have a repeat of the previous one-year extension, when it took until early February 2015 for the NSW and Federal Governments to announce their plan for the allocation of funds for a financial year that had begun in July of 2014.

“A review of the state government’s allocation model must identify areas of need and a focus on regions and populations where there are gaps in services,” said Ms Barham.

“Last year we saw the chaotic process with the Going Home, Staying Home funding allocations that saw dramatic changes to service provision for homelessness, including the loss of services and closure of some refuges. What has resulted is an overall loss of funding to some regions such as the far north coast, with the loss of some $2.5million that provided key homelessness services to support people which were seen as highly effective, including the Accommodation Project and the Tenancy Support program.”

“The Federal Government’s announcement is an opportunity for NSW to see commitments to address the problems and challenges that have arisen. We need targeted investment in programs that support some of the most vulnerable people including those who are fleeing family violence, young people and many of our older community members.

“As well as addressing the crisis of homelessness, we need all parties to allocate government funding to boosting the availability of housing and relieving housing affordability pressures. The Greens have detailed our $20billion infrastructure package, which includes a $4.5billion investment to deliver 20,000 social and affordable housing properties over two years.

“The Greens have continued to press the NSW and Federal governments to work out a long-term, effective agreement to provide certainty for the homelessness sector and develop the services and capacity required to begin reducing the numbers of people who are facing homelessness.

“All parties should immediately commit to implement the two-year funding extension and to urgently review and improve the funding allocation to ensure the best possible delivery of homelessness services to the vulnerable people who need support,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891