Productivity Commission homelessness report shows urgent need for higher JobSeeker payment
At the height of the Omicron crisis people are at greater risk than ever. There is no excuse for inaction.
Today’s Productivity Commission report exposes the depth of the housing crisis. With a dramatic increase in the number of people turned away from homelessness services and nearly half of all people who receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance in housing stress, there is no excuse for inaction on income support payments.
The government showed in 2020 that they can lift social security payments overnight and they must do so again. Funding for homelessness services achieves little when there is no pathway for people to be able to afford a safe place to live. The cost of rent keeps us in housing precarity and crowded living situations where there is no safe place to isolate when needed.
As the Omicron wave rips through the community, people without safe shelter and those in housing stress need support more urgently than ever. The pandemic is at a scale not seen before, and yet every support that was in place during the has been ripped away.
All social security payments must be lifted to at least the Henderson Poverty Line, which is currently $83 a day and previous temporary measures brought back so that rough sleepers are able to access safe shelter and be supported to find a secure place to live.
Quotes attributable to Kristin O’Connell from the Antipoverty Centre:
Homelessness, housing stress and poverty are not insurmountable problems – they are a political choice.
Every state and federal member of parliament in this country should be ashamed of themselves. This is the result of decades of under-investment in public housing, chronically low income support payments and lack of access to appropriate healthcare for people with disability.
We know that poverty is the number one cause of homelessness and housing stress in this country and we know the government could do something about it overnight if they cared.
The consequences of these policies are obvious. When the government slashed the JobSeeker payment in 2020 and 2021 we received a dramatic increase in the number of people contacting us who were in fear of becoming homeless or who had become homeless.
If they actually cared about alleviating homelessness, they would increase the rate of social security payments, and make sure that everyone who needs support could access it, regardless of their visa status.
More homelessness services and more funding won’t fix this problem, it’s nothing but a bandaid on a gaping wound. The government must immediately increase social security payments to at least the Henderson poverty line, and then we need serious investment in public housing so that those of us on low incomes have an affordable alternative and to put downward pressure on the private rental market.