Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

AIHW Report Underlines Need for Homelessness Response

The annual Demand for Supported Assistance Accommodation by Homeless People 2007-08 report released today underlines the need for greater services for families who become homeless.

The report, produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), provides information on the number of people who seek SAAP accommodation but are turned away.

The figures cover a period before the release of the Government’s Homelessness White Paper, which provided an additional $1.2 billion over four years.

Findings from the AIHW Report show that each night an extra 937 people seeking accommodation in 2007-08 were assisted into housing compared to those assisted in 2006-07.

Single men and women were most likely to be provided with crisis accommodation.

Of the 14,696 people who sought SAAP accommodation each day in 2007-08, there was a 4.7 per cent increase in the number of people turned away without receiving SAAP accommodation.

Couples and families were more likely than other groups to be turned away.

Accommodation for families was the most difficult to find, as family groups tend to stay longer in SAAP accommodation resulting in the lack of suitable accommodation.

This was identified as an emerging issue in the Government’s White Paper and will be a priority for the Government in negotiations with State and Territories on implementation plans.

The Government’s White Paper on Homelessness: The Road Home aims to offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it and halve homelessness by 2020 by expanding housing assistance programs.

These reforms will make services more connected, integrated and responsive to providing sustainable housing with the support people need to maintain their housing.

Many families become homeless for financial reasons, compounded by a lack of affordable rental housing.

The Government has committed a further $6.4 billion to build 20,000 new social housing across Australia as part of the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

Another $48 million over the next two years has been invested to support young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, through the Reconnect program.