Thursday, 6 March 2008

Public Housing and the homeless

My recent participation in the CoPF #142, which has a homeless theme, has caused me to think about what kind of homes are available for the homeless.

To me, homeless means a few thing, but it boils down to not having a place where my family and I can feel safe and secure. The difficulty is obtaining that place, either buying or renting a house. The rental market in Melbourne is red hot, and the affordability of buying a house is at record low.

The Victorian government tries to ease the situation by provide public housing. Public housing is not free housing. Essentially, it is houses that are the Victorian government rents out the public. The differences between public housing and private housing is the criteria which the house are rented.

If you want to rent a house privately, prove to your landlord that you can afford to pay the rent, and not damage the property while you are renting, and the property is yours. The rental rate is set by the landlord. The rental market is so competitive that I have heard of landlord auctioning off the leases.

With public housing, you will need to meet the following criteria to be on the waiting list for a suitable housing to be available. According to this pdf document, there are close to 35,000 people on the list!
  • not exceed the current general public housing income and asset eligibility limits.
  • live in Victoria.
  • not own or part own a house, unit or flat.
  • have Australian citizenship or permanent residency status.
  • repay any money that you still owe from a previous public housing tenancy or Bond Loan.
If your situation is extreme, you can be apply for early housing where, if suitable housing is available, your application will have a higher priority. These situation includes recurring homelessness, supported housing and special housing needs.

The key thing is that the rent rate is set at either market rate or rebated rate, whichever one is lower. Market rate is the going rate for a similar property in the private rental market. Rebated rate is calculated at 25% of the combined household income.

The Victorian Government's Office of Housing has a great website that has a lot of detail information.

My closest experience with homeless was when I sold up and went traveling around Australia about 5 years ago. I know that what I did was not even 5% of what a homeless person would experience because being homeless is not just a physical thing, it is also a mental state and also an emotional state. As I traveled around the country, I met many others in makeshift shelters, transient accommodations and hostels. It provided me with an opportunity allow me to talk and to get an indication of their lives. In some ways, I feel encouraged that they are able to survive on a day-to-day basis, given their extreme conditions. On the other hand, I also felt angry and disappointed that in this country that we are not able to do more for the homeless.

Photo credit: Piotr Ciuchta
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louise said...

Sadly it's a problems for a lot of people. In one of the towns I work in the nearest youth refuges are over 50kms away. If the kids go there they can't come to school as there is no public transport, so they don't go and end up in some very risky situations. We had a youth refuge years ago but the government in it's wisdom closed it. 43% of the homeless in NSW are under 24 years of age.

tehnyit said...

Louise, I am very much in agreement with you. The kids are usually the one who suffers the most. Unfortunately, the environment and effects will probably be ingrained in the kids and their future will quite bleak.

eye infection said...

Hey this child really CARES and she thinks and works things out and is willing to pay! If we the voters really cared about homelessness and health and education and closing the gap and WE were willing to pay.......WOW