“All it takes is for one thing to go wrong” – Why prevention is key to ending homelessness
4 Mar 2021
Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey commended the Legal and Social Issues Committee for the far-reaching findings and recommendations in Victoria’s first ever Parliamentary inquiry into homelessness.
The solutions in the final report reflect the evidence Justice Connect provided at the initial public hearing and in their detailed submission.
“Through our Homeless Law program, we have seen the volatile and unaffordable nature of the private rental market. All it takes is for one thing to go wrong – the kids getting sick, or the car breaking down – for Victorians to fall behind in rent, and be on the brink of eviction into homelessness,” explained Chris Povey.
In this context, Justice Connect welcomes the Committee’s acknowledgement of the importance of tenancy legal services in preventing homelessness.
“Every day before and during COVID-19, we have seen the positive impact made by holistic legal services that work further upstream to help people avoid the crisis of homelessness and support them to achieve long-term stability and safety.”
“In addition, the Committee has recognised the critical role of public and community housing for Victorians who are locked out of the private rental market. Following through on this housing investment will ensure we can rapidly move people into long-term, stable homes during the COVID-19 recovery phase.”
The Committee also highlighted the importance of reducing the criminalisation of homelessness through service-based responses and diverting people away from the justice system.
“We have spent 20 years helping Victorians experiencing or at risk of homelessness with fines and charges, and we know that enforcement-based responses to homelessness don’t work. We welcome the Committee’s recognition of our recommendations to reduce justice-system interactions and improve long-term outcomes” says Povey.
The Committee has also recommended more housing and integrated legal support for people exiting prison.
“Through our work with Victorians in prison, we know that access to post-release housing with supports is critical to increase community reintegration.”
The final report for the Inquiry into homelessness in Victoria was tabled in Parliament today and outlines 51 recommendations to end homelessness through a range of preventative mechanisms.