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Russell Northe questions parliament over homeless crisis in Latrobe Valley

Mr Northe and his office had been contacted by countless people who were either homeless or at grave risk of homelessness with the situation seemingly more prevalent than ever right now.

By news@gippsland - 27th May 2022 - Back to News

Member for Morwell Russell Northe has used Question Time in parliament yesterday highlighting the dire situation of homelessness in Latrobe Valley and the pressures this is placing on individuals, families and service providers. "We have a whole series of circumstances that are perpetuating this issue including disadvantage; unemployment; high cost of living; health and mental health issues; being squeezed out of the private rental market; long waiting lists for public and social housing; a lack of emergency and crisis accommodation."

Mr Northe also submitted a number of homeless and housing related questions on notice which are below for your reference

Mr Northe also submitted a number of homeless and housing related questions on notice which are below for your reference

Most difficult of circumstances

Mr Northe said, "Subsequently my staff and I have fielded a higher than usual number of calls from people seeking assistance and support in trying to find stable and suitable accommodation."

Mr Northe and his staff have also been in dialogue with housing providers such as Quantum and Community Housing Limited who are doing their absolute best to support their clients despite their resources being stretched to the limit.

"These and other housing and service providers are doing an exceptional job in the most difficult of circumstances but they also need increased and ongoing support to assist their clients." Mr Northe said.

Raising issues and concerns

The Member for Morwell used the opportunity in Question Time to ask the Minister for Housing if the criterion and funding levels relating to the Housing Establishment Fund (HEF) would change. HEF helps support persons into emergency and crisis accommodation.

"For example, under current HEF rules this funding can be used to support a single person or a couple without children to stay in an emergency accommodation setting such as a motel; however this is now restricted to two to three nights only unlike during COVID when the rules were much more flexible" Mr Northe said.

"Further, I raised my concerns to the Minister that we are very concerned that service providers will only receive HEF funding at pre-COVID levels and this would just lead to an unworkable scenario for providers and their clients." Mr Northe continued.

Responsible approach

Mr Northe continued, "Like the criterion of HEF, funding levels of HEF increased during COVID which was an entirely appropriate and responsible approach to the situation. Credit to the government for making that investment at the time but given demand has not diminished we just can't afford to see a reduction in HEF funding. It would be a dire outcome for service providers and their clients."

"Whilst the Minister provided an overview of what initiatives the government was instigating in the housing and homeless sector, he didn't really provide a commitment if he would amend the HEF criteria or whether HEF funding would be reduced in the 2022/2023 financial year. I will continue to advocate to the minister on these important points." Mr Northe concluded.

Questions raised on debate

Mr Northe to ask the Minister for Housing - with reference to homelessness, lack of social, public and crisis housing and accommodation along with inadequate resources for housing and service providers in the Latrobe Valley I ask:

1. Given substantial interim response lists relating to Homelessness Entry Points and people with complex needs waiting extensively for assistance through the Transitional Support Program, I ask when will there be an increase to Intake, Assessment and Planning (IAP) resources for Homelessness Entry Points and Case Management Support?

2. The government has previously announced its Big Housing Build to which Latrobe City was identified as an area to benefit from a $60 million investment. Can the Minister provide details of what this $60 million entails including the number of new housing stock, type of stock and location in Latrobe City?

3. In relation to question 2, can the Minister provide details including the number of new housing stock, type of stock and location including the amount that has been expended effective on 24th May, 2022?

4. Can the Minister outline why the 10 Year Social and Affordable Housing Strategy which was supposed to be launched in late 2021 has still not been launched?

5. Can the Minister confirm if the launch was postponed recently and if so why was it postponed and when will the launch actually occur?

6. The Homeless to a Home (H2H) initiative was well intended in seeking to assist vulnerable persons with head leasing private rentals and accommodate these same persons with support. Can the Minister outline how many people in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region were able to rent or purchase private properties through H2H?

7. How many H2H recipients were able to lease or purchase social or public housing properties in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region?

8. In relation to question 7, how many of these persons were Latrobe valley and Gippsland residents?

9. In relation to question 7, what negative impact did this have upon existing waiting lists for those already upon the Victorian Housing Register and Transitional Housing exit points in the Latrobe Valley?

10. Minister can you outline what the state government is doing to support individuals, families and service providers in the Latrobe Valley to improve the homelessness and housing crisis that exists in our community?


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