CUTTING HOMELESSNESS FUNDING IS FALSE ECONOMY

26 Sep 2016

Recent studies show that the Turnbull government’s lack of commitment to tackling homelessness is going to cost federal and state health budgets tens of millions every year.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  

CUTTING HOMELESSNESS FUNDING IS FALSE ECONOMY

Recent studies show that the Turnbull government’s lack of commitment to tackling homelessness is going to cost federal and state health budgets tens of millions every year.

Cutting funding to public housing and homelessness services is false economy.

A report by Sacred Heart Mission and analysis by the Council to Homeless Persons has found the yearly cost of not housing people with complex needs in Victoria is $17,591 per person per year.

The total cost to the Victorian taxpayer through the provision of additional health care and other services to rough-sleepers is $19 million a year.

The result of the Victorian study mirrors the findings of the July 2016 Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report What are the Health, Social and Economic Benefits of Providing Public Housing and Support to Formerly Homeless People?

The AHURI report found that in Western Australia, the health system cost of not providing public housing and homelessness support services to homeless people is $4846 per person per year.

If priority homeless clients are excluded the change per person with National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness support is nearly triple this at $13,273 per person per year. The average cost of providing support under National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness programs is estimated at $6,462 per person per year.

The AHURI report finds that savings associated with reduced health service use following public housing entry was nearly $16.4 million in the first year in Western Australia alone.

It is highly likely that the cost of failing to tackle homelessness is of a similar scale in every state and territory.

The evidence in the Sacred Heart Mission and AHURI reports demonstrate the social and economic cost of not effectively tackling housing and homelessness and the false economy of capricious budget cuts.

It is an absolute disgrace that the Turnbull government has failed to appoint a Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Since 2013, the Turnbull government has:

  • Closed the National Rental Affordability Scheme which provided over 20,000 new affordable housing units and was on track to achieve its target of 50,000;
  • Refused to provide funding certainty through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness;
  • Cut $44 million a year in capital funding for emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic and family violence;
  • Inexplicably cut funding to Homelessness Australia, National Shelter and the Community Housing Federation of Australia, reducing the effectiveness of their advocacy and policy functions;
  • Scrapped the First Home Saver Account Scheme which was helping people save for their first home; and
  • Closed its mind to evidence by abolishing the National Housing Supply Council and the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness.

Malcolm Turnbull is so consumed by attacks from within his own party that he cannot muster the courage of conviction to address the inequality and economic insecurity that homelessness creates.

THURSDAY, 25 AUGUST 2016