Homeless Agreement signed

Photo: Queensland Minister for Communities, Tracy Davis (Centre back) and Minister for Housing, Tim Mander (Right front), seen here at Brisbane Common Ground for the announcement of Queensland’s signing up to the NPAH.

Micah Projects, a not for profit organisation working with hundreds of people in Brisbane who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, has welcomed the signing of the National Homelessness Partnership Agreement between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.

According to Karyn Walsh, Coordinator of Micah Projects, “This means services can continue, and individuals and families can access services, to help prevent and end homelessness.

“We are relieved that the agreement is signed,” said Karyn, “but very disappointed that it is for only one year, and that the continuation of the agreement was not included in the federal budget.

“We recognise that the Queensland government advocated for a four year agreement, and are disappointed that the Gillard government did not see the value of a four year term, which obviously gives greater security to services.

“It is now a matter for both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to rectify this, and ensure that a commitment to continue the investment into the future is embedded in election policies.

“It is essential to continue to fund programs which prevent and end homelessness for individuals, families and their children,” says Karyn. “It makes sense for everyone; individuals, families, children and the community as a whole benefits. In the last 12 months, Micah Projects has assisted 2940 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, 820 of whom were children.

“We were able to intervene early to prevent homelessness for 240 adults and 182 children who were about to become homeless,” said Karyn. “At the end of our support with them, 86 percent of these families were still housed in sustainable housing.

“Through our Street to Home and Supportive Housing services, we were able to break the homelessness cycle for people sleeping rough and the chronically homeless. The number of people sleeping rough has been reduced by 49.7 percent, and 66 percent of rough sleepers, or people who were experiencing chronic homelessness, remain housed.

“Brisbane Common Ground is the first permanent supportive housing project to be funded, and it is critical for funding to continue. Common Ground Queensland and Micah Projects have had so much community support in bringing about another solution to chronic homelessness in Brisbane, and we need a range of options to ensure we keep our vision to end homelessness a reality.

“Homelessness is never static,” said Karyn. “The number of people overall experiencing homelessness has increased, but we are pleased that our work with rough sleepers, carried out in effective partnerships with Queensland Police, Support Link, Mater Health Services, St Vincent’s Hospital and other NGOs, has contributed to a substantial decrease in people living on the streets. Integrating healthcare with our partners, including Medicare Locals, has been vital to our success.

“We know from experience that we have to maintain consistent and assertive outreach to people on the streets to ensure that they do not remain there and are housed, to prevent chronic homelessness from increasing.

“With growing cost of living pressures and higher rents, it is also critical to ensure we provide assistance early to prevent families and vulnerable adults from falling into homelessness.

“Children with their parents have a growing presence at homelessness services, and we know we must be attentive and proactive in keeping families housed.”

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