The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has launched its iconic 2014 CEO Sleepout with a call for national consensus on the urgent priority of reducing homelessness and increasing the supply of social and affordable housing.
“Today as we launch the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for 2014, there remains a great sense of unease among the community sector and the people we assist about their future,” Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said.
“The uncertainty remains despite the Government’s recent announcement that it will extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) for another year. Although the NPAH extension was welcome, the spending cut of $44 million to the capital works program aspect of the agreement was not. A commitment to addressing homelessness should be bipartisan. It is homelessness itself that we must cut, not the spending on homelessness,” Dr Falzon said.
The St Vincent de Paul Society has called on the government to:
- Re-install funding to the capital works program as part of the NPAH and commit to a longer term funding agreement to give homelessness services greater security.
- Use the budget as an opportunity to invest in the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS) and other means of increasing the supply of social and affordable housing and increase Rent Assistance, indexing it to changes in the average private rental costs, which, over the last five years, have seen increases 12.3 per cent higher than the CPI.
- Assess the current structure of negative gearing so that rather than increasing speculative investment Australia can actually increase the supply of affordable housing.
National President Anthony Thornton implored business and political leaders to join together in a national commitment to reduce homelessness, which affects more than 105,000 people every night in Australia.
“Everyone has the right to a place to call home but when the housing market fails to deliver on this basic human right, governments must do what markets cannot,” Mr Thornton said, “There will always be charities like ours here, waiting ready to pick up the pieces but people have a right to expect justice rather than having to depend on charity.”
The 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout is being held in 10 locations across the country on June 19th, 2014 and more information can be found at www.ceosleepout.org.au
Read the Homelessness Issue of The Record, published in autumn 2014 comprising articles from leading charity sector executives.