[Hpn] 'Affordable housing needed' for homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 24 Aug 2006 18:28:34 -0400

'Affordable housing needed' for homeless

August 25, 2006


ALMOST 70,000 children, the majority under four years old, needed crisis 
accommodation in a single year, a new reports shows.

The startling statistic is contained in the latest snapshot of homelessness 
in Australia.

And the nation's peak welfare body says it proves that more needs to be done 
to provide affordable housing.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released today, shows 
that more than 150,000 Australians accessed crisis accommodation across the 
country in 2004-05.

More than 40 per cent were children, and most of them were very young - 
babies and toddlers under four years old.

"The fact that (so many) people are homeless in good economic times also 
points to the need to do more to make sure all Australians can find 
accessible, affordable and safe housing," Australian Council of Social 
Service (ACOSS) director Andrew Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said a further two million Australians were struggling to make 
their budget each week.

"Some of these are just a few bills or a family crisis away from being 
homeless themselves," he said.

Report author Felicity Murdoch said one in every 51 Australian children aged 
four or under had spent a night in crisis accommodation in 2004-05.

Support for those children, whether accompanied by a guardian or not, was 
met almost all of the time.

"The vast majority, 94 per cent, of services requested for accompanied 
children were able to be provided directly," Ms Murdoch said.

However, crisis centres were still struggling to provide some services like 
counselling, the report said.

Ms Murdoch said many of the children arrived at crisis centres with their 

"They are women and children escaping domestic violence," she said.

For teenagers turning up at the door of crisis accommodation, the major 
cause of their problems is family breakdown, the report said.

About 90 per cent of the 12 to 17 year olds in need of accommodation had 
their needs met by the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program, Ms 
Murdoch said.

Mr Johnson said it was important the Government aimed to meet the emergency 
needs of all people.

"ACOSS and its members support increases to programs like the Supported 
Accommodation Assistance Program to make sure those who need homelessness 
services can get them whether they be on city streets or in rural and remote 
areas," he said.