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What the NSW budget means for homelessness services

The NSW Government released its 2024-25 budget on Tuesday 18th June. The budget sets out a long overdue and welcome investment of $6.1 billion in social housing and a package of $527.6 million for homelessness services and temporary accommodation.

Social housing investment is a win and there’s a 20% increase in homelessness investment. For the first time, this investment is over four years and with limited ties. Homes NSW says they want to codesign with us how the money should be spent most effectively.  

Key investments that will impact the homelessness sector are in the areas of temporary accommodation, service delivery, social housing, domestic and family violence, and mental health.  

Below is a summary that sets out funding announcements related to homelessness and the implications for the sector. We hope that this is a useful resource for you in unpacking what the budget means for specialist homelessness services and the people they support.  

We have also included some key messages to support local advocacy. You are welcome to use the quotes provided in any media messaging and campaigning, however we’d appreciate you attributing these to Homelessness NSW as indicated.  

Remember, the Housing and Homelessness Dashboard is also available on our website where you can access data relevant to your local government area.  

We will take the opportunities available through these budget investments to advocate for more supported, safe and accessible temporary accommodation, and resources for providers to deliver critical services and pathways into homes with the support to keep those homes. We will be calling onour members in the coming weeks to help inform recommendations to government about the best ways to spend the $527.6 million for homelessness services. 

 

What’s in the budget and what it means for homelessness 

Funding for homelessness services 

What is in the budget? 

  • $527.6 million support package for homelessness services, provided over the next four years for emergency housing and homelessness support services (additional to core funding), including: 
  • Over $260 million to help people and families who need safe shelter with crisis accommodation and support to move to more stable housing; and  
  • $250 million for funding to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including those leaving correctional centres and mental health services and securing funding for Specialist Homelessness Services and the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector. This comprises: 
  • Up to $100 million to establish the Homelessness Innovation Fund, to work with those on the frontline to deliver innovative responses to the current crisis, including initiatives that embed a Housing First approach; 
  • Up to $46 million to meet fixed wage and operating costs associated with providing services to support people experiencing homelessness (this is inclusive of indexation); and 
  • Up to $120 million to drive localised responses to priority cohorts including Aboriginal people, rough sleepers, young people and people exiting institutions. 

What is missing? 

  • The wages and operating funding are not really a new investments. This just contributes to covering the increased costs of delivering services associated with wage increases, inflation and higher insurance premiums.  
  • It is unclear how this funding will be distributed across the state and the extent to which regional and rural communities will be supported. 
  • There is no commitment to Together Home, or a comparable Housing First or Housing-Led program, beyond end of 2024-25. There may be opportunities for development of such programs via the Homelessness Innovation Fund.  
  • There is a lack of investment in prevention – in addressing the drivers of homelessness. While the emphasis on housing and homelessness is welcome, insufficient investment in areas such as child protection, justice, cost-of-living support, families, makes it difficult to address the structural causes of homelessness.  
  • There is a lack of investment in the pathways out of homelessness such as transitional, medium-term and long-term housing.  
  • There is a lack of targeted investment for some of the people most in need, including First Nations people, youth, older people, people with disabilities, and people who are non-residents.  

Key advocacy messages  

  • This funding is essential and welcomed. But this is not enough to cover growing costs of delivering services or meeting the massive community demand that will only continue to grow. 
  • We welcome opportunities from the NSW Government for the homelessness sector to contribute to the redesign of the temporary accommodation system, detailed planning for expenditure of homelessness services funding, and strategising for a stronger homelessness system.  
  • Changes to temporary accommodation must seek to offer more supported temporary accommodation, quick transitions out of temporary accommodation and into secure housing, culturally safe temporary accommodation, and safe, accessible accommodation (for example for people with disabilities, people escaping domestic violence, people pets and families of all compositions).  

 

Social housing 

What is in the budget? 

  • $5.1 billion over four years for social housing. This will fund 8,400 social homes, including land purchase and construction for 6,200 new social homes and replacement of 2,200 social homes. The government has a goal of prioritising 50% of the new homes for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence.  
  • $1 billion to repair 33,500 existing social homes including: 
  • $810 million for critical maintenance and minor works that bring homes back online and prevent disrepair; and 
  • $202.6 million over 4 years to Aboriginal Housing Office to support critical capital maintenance of First Nations social housing. 
  • $20 million to continue to deliver social housing across flood impacted locations in Northern NSW through the  

What is missing?

  • By 2050 10% of homes should be social housing. Currently we are at 4.6%. This investment must be sustained long-term.  

Key advocacy messages

  • The social housing investment is an impressive commitment illustrating the scale of ambition needed to kickstart genuine reform.  
  • Social housing is crucial to moving people out of homelessness and into secure, safe homes.  
  • Secure, safe, appropriate and accessible social housing and tenancy support are key to preventing homelessness.  

Other investments  

Domestic violence 

$245.6 mil over 4 years for a coordinated, multi-pronged response that seeks to disrupt the cycle of DFV early and permanently, while optimising crisis response services to support victim-survivors. This includes: 

  • $48.1 mil to secure funding for specialist workers who support children accompanying their mothers to refuges, expanding their presence from 20-30 refuges across NSW; 
  • $48 mil to roll out Staying Home Leaving Violence program state-wide and to expand the Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service; 
  • $45 mil to improve bail laws and justice system responses to domestic violence; 
  • $38.3 mil to implement NSW’s first dedicated Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Strategy, which will fund range of initiatives to address the drivers of gendered violence; 
  • $29.6 mil for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service to provide support for victim-survivors requiring support to navigate the justice system; 
  • $10 mil to support Men’s Behaviour Change Programs to enable men to recognise their violent behaviour and develop strategies to prevent the use of violence; 
  • $13.6 mil for research into perpetrators and effective interventions, workforce training on the implementation of a newly developed risk assessment framework, and expanding Domestic Violence NSW, which is the peak body for specialist services in NSW.  

Mental health 

$30.4 million over the next four years for community mental health teams (not homelessness specific), which will fund: 

  • 35 additional mental health positions to support community outreach mental health teams to extend hours of service and increase case management functions. This includes five outreach mental health housing liaison positions who will work with NSW Department of Communities and Justice to link people who are using mental health services, who are also at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness, to accessing housing and sustain tenancies. There will also be five workers allocated to the St Vincent’s Health network for a new assertive adult community mental health team.  

 

Helpful resources 

Data 

You can find up-to-date region-specific data on topics such as homelessness, use of specialist homelessness services, social housing and rental stress via our data dashboard: Housing and Homelessness Dashboard – Homelessness NSW 

What we asked for 

You can find a copy of our 2024/25 pre-budget submission and the recommendations for investment that we made to NSW Government here: https://homelessnessnsw.org.au/our-work/submissions/  

Quotes 

Here are some quotes from Dom Rowe, CEO of Homelessness NSW, that you can include in media materials: 

“The long overdue investment in social housing, including priority access for domestic violence victim-survivors is essential to turn around this once-in-a-generation crisis.”  

“This $527 million investment in critical homelessness services is welcome, but must not represent our best efforts to tackle this once-in-a-generation crisis.” 

“While it remains below what’s needed to meet soaring costs and community demand, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction. Homelessness NSW looks forward to working with the government to ensure the money goes where it is needed most.” 

“Spending on crisis measures such as temporary accommodation are vital, but remain a band aid fix without substantial investment in preventing homelessness and long-term housing. The government’s plan to transform the temporary accommodation is a welcome move.” 

“Without additional funding beyond 2025 for Together Home, which helps rough sleepers access long-term housing, hundreds of vulnerable people will be left without support. 

NSW Budget papers 

You can find the NSW Government 2024-25 budget papers here: https://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/ 

Support and advice 

If you would like to discuss the policy or ideas for local advocacy, please contact Kate, Policy and Research Director at kate@homelessnessnsw.org.au  

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