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Homelessness prevention package in NSW welcomed

Homelessness NSW, the state peak for Specialist Homelessness Services, today welcomed the steps taken by the Berejiklian Government to address the risks for people experiencing and at risk of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katherine McKernan, CEO of Homelessness NSW, said “This crisis will affect us all, no matter who we are. But the better prepared we are to support those most at risk, the better the outcome for not only vulnerable people but also the health system and the broader community.”

NSW has the highest numbers of people sleeping rough, and people experiencing homelessness in Australia. This community is extremely vulnerable to impacts of COVID-19, as they are more likely to experience mental ill health or physical ill-health, including chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease and much more.

“This government must have a laser-like focus on a safe, prepared and well-resourced homelessness sector, alongside housing for those who need it. There must be no delay.

“The funding announced today will enable the sector to really act to provide accommodation for those experiencing and at risk of homelessness who need it to stay healthy and well”

The announcement today of $34 million aims to act as a ‘boost to prevent homelessness’, alongside $10 million in support for charities, likely for OzHarvest and Foodbank, and $6 million for Lifeline’s operations in NSW.

“But for the government to get us through the worst, we also need to ensure frontline workers are safe, and have the appropriate advice and gear to stay safe and keep delivering services to our most vulnerable”.

“We need to see this government prepare for the next wave of vulnerability that has already begun as job loss grows. This means putting a moratorium on evictions, stopping rent increases, and resourcing services to support those who are already starting to appear on our streets.

Homelessness NSW is calling on government to:

  • Immediately enact a planned response to those sleeping rough across the state, and ensure they are housed
  • Resources for services for adequate staffing, brokerage and equipment to support clients during COVID-19
  • Ensure the safety of frontline workers through procurement and supply of Personal Protective Equipment; through support and advice in the event of an outbreak in accommodation services
  • Support for accommodation and support services to access cleaning supplies and equipment
  • Immediately enact a planned response to those who are in overcrowded accommodation, who are in boarding houses, who are couch surfing and who are in unstable accommodation
  • Plan for, and resources services to respond to, the next wave of vulnerability as job losses occur across the state, including a moratorium on evictions and rent increase

Full Media Release

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