MEDIA RELEASE: Alliance calls for stop to evictions and increase in welfare to prevent mass homelessness

News | Mar 20, 2020

The Federal Government must act quickly and decisively to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic does not spark a national homelessness crisis.

Everybody’s Home has urged the Morrison Government to focus on those who are homeless and renters at risk of losing their homes when it puts together its second wave of stimulus spending.

Everybody’s Home has identified three priority areas that need urgent government support.

  1. Use empty hotels for crisis accommodation – There are currently more than 8,200 Australians sleeping rough. Getting people off the street and into crisis accommodation by accessing vacant hotel rooms or Airbnbs would help protect this vulnerable group.

  2. Stop people becoming homeless – Many renters will lose shifts or their jobs and won’t be able to pay their rent. When this occurs, renters need rapid access to income support to cover their rent, while state governments should immediately halt evictions from public housing and put in place measures to prevent evictions from other rentals.

  3. Self-isolation for people living in overcrowded share accommodation – If someone living in an overcrowded house has a medical certificate requiring self-isolation, the housemates of that person should have access to a safe place to sleep for the self-isolation period. Again, empty hotels and Airbnbs could be accessed for this purpose.

Everybody’s Home campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin said this was an unprecedented crisis that demanded cross-community cooperation and creative problem-solving.

“Right now, we have a hospitality industry facing an extended period with thousands of unoccupied beds, while similar numbers of at-risk individuals are in desperate need of somewhere to sleep,” said Ms Colvin.

“With modest financial support, the Morrison Government could match up supply with demand and help minimise the spread of the coronavirus and the impact it’s having on our communities.

“We recognise there will be many calls for government support at this time, but we urge the Government to place society’s most vulnerable at the centre of their attention.”

Everybody’s Home also commended the Victorian Government after it announced $6 million in extra funding to combat homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic and get rough sleepers into accommodation.

“Victoria has made a good start, but we also need the other states and territories to step up. Victoria has shown leadership in this instance and now the other states need to take action to ensure the safety of people without a home.”

Ms Colvin also noted that the coronavirus pandemic is exposing the many weaknesses of Australia’s housing and rental supports system and that the Federal Government has an opportunity to eliminate those weaknesses in the long-term.

“Now is the time for governments all over the country to commit to a major program of social housing construction. It will get Australians back to work and help eliminate homelessness in the future.”

Media enquiries: Patrick Molan 0418 173 201

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