Census Data shows 11% increase in Victorian homelessness


A message from CHP

The ABS have released the 2016 Census data, showing that 24,817 Victorians were counted as homeless in 2016, an 11% increase since 2011 Census.

The Census puts a number to what Victorian homelessness services have long been reporting – that they’re groaning under the weight of demand.
The increase in homelessness is no surprise given that as a country we’ve failed to tackle the housing affordability crisis, and our homelessness services continue to be chronically underfunded.

Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice, it reflects systems failure, and most critically, a shortage of affordable housing.

In our State Budget Submission CHP has called for 14,500 more social housing properties, tripling the commitment already made by the State Government. We've also proposed more focus on programs that help people on low incomes to sustain private rental, a focus on turning off the tap of homelessness through dedicated housing for people exiting institutions, support for kids experiencing homelessness to stay connected to school, and a Permanent Supportive Housing program that targets rough sleepers.

The State Government has made some good inroads to solving homelessness. However, without Federal government investment in social housing and homelessness support, we’re fighting a battle with one hand tied behind our back.

It has been 10 years since the Rudd Government made a commitment to halve homelessness by 2020. While the housing crisis that underpins homelessness has worsened – a housing crisis that ironically is driven by Federal housing policy – Federal political interest in solving homelessness has waned.

Homelessness is not an insurmountable problem. The solutions include:

  • a monumental boost to social housing stock, which has fallen national to just 5% of all housing. There are 36,000 Victorians waiting for social housing,
  • reform of the housing taxation system which encourages investors to own many properties while thousands don’t have a roof over their head
  • An increase to Centrelink incomes, especially the Newstart income, which leaves people just $20/day after they’ve paid for housing
  • Proper funding of our homelessness services so they’re not turning people away, and can intervene earlier to prevent homelessness happening in the first place

The Federal Government’s new National Homelessness and Housing Agreement, is before the Senate and likely to come into effect on 1 July. The legislation currently on the table brings not a single extra dollar of homelessness or housing funding to Victoria in real terms.

Our homelessness crisis has been growing for a long time, and it will not be solved overnight. It needs concerted effort from every level of government. The solutions that will make homelessness a brief, once off and supported experience, are at our fingertips; we just need the political will to make it happen.

Homelessness Australia - media release - Homelessness increase no surprise; homelessness is not a Federal priority 

CHP - media release - Victoria calls for better funding deal, as Census shows surge in older people’s homelessness, couchsurfing, severe overcrowding

Australian Bureau of Statistics