December 7, 2021
Increasing income support dramatically reduces the number of people experiencing homelessness, new data which charts Australia’s experience of the pandemic, confirms.
The data, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows additional support measures like the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper, succeeded in reducing homelessness nationally during FY2021.
People presenting to homelessness services nationally:
Analysis from Homelessness Australia of AIHW data shows that homelessness plunged when the Coronavirus Supplement was available between April 2020 to August 2020, and increased again as the additional income support was slowly removed.
Higher support payments in 2020, delivered via JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement, saved far more people from losing their home, than the lower and more restrictive payments in 2021.
6,425 more people required homelessness support in May 2021, a jump of 7% from May 2020. The analysis shows the difference an adequate safety net can make in people’s lives, Homelessness Australia Chair Jenny Smith says.
“The sector has been saying for years now, that increasing income support would reduce homelessness, and now we have the evidence that proves it,” Smith says.
“When JobSeeker was effectively doubled by the Coronavirus Supplement, the amount of people seeking help for homelessness, fell significantly. People could afford a home.
“As that additional support was withdrawn, that was no longer the case, and more people fell into homelessness.
“The Federal Government knows what it needs to do. If it raises the rate of JobSeeker for good, then far less people would find themselves without a home.”
The Federal Government should immediately increase the rate of JobSeeker from $45 to $69 per day and increase the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by at least 50%, Smith says.
“This data shows that homelessness can be ended, an adequate rate of JobSeeker is a matter of political will,” Smith says.