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Downturn leads to spike in homelessness

The economic downturn has put increased strain on homelessness services, underscoring the importance of the Government’s homelessness strategy and its commitments to halve homelessness and end rough sleeping by 2020.

ACOSS has applauded the Government’s homelessness strategy, The Road Home and the significant funding of $6 billion for social housing programs in February’s economic stimulus package.

“Even before the downturn hit, people were turned away from homelessness crisis services,” said Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service. “ACOSS is calling on state and federal governments to move swiftly to prioritise the implementation of the homeless strategy and ensure more Australians have a secure place to live.

“The economic downturn has meant increased job losses leading to rental arrears, mortgage defaults and more evictions leading more people to seek crisis accommodation.

“Our members are reporting a spike in demand for crisis services, for example one centre has reported a six-fold increase in the number of homeless families needing help. Frontline services are also reporting an increase in demand for emergency relief and financial counselling services.”

59 per cent of people who sought crisis accommodation were turned away from services, according to figures released today from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for 2007-2008.

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