Homeless surge in lockdown

Wayss chief executive Liz Thomas says more emergency accommodation was needed.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The latest lockdown has plunged the South East’s most vulnerable into turmoil, a homelessness agency reports.

Within the shudown’s first week, Wayss has reported nearly a 300 per cent surge in requests for crisis accommodation.

There were 42 new clients including 16 women and 15 children. In the week prior to lockdown, there were 11.

Wayss chief executive Liz Thomas said the amount of children without a roof was of great concern.

Family violence continued to be a rising factor in homelessness.

In May, nearly 800 family violence reports were referred by police to Wayss.

That’s up 20 per cent compared to a year ago.

It comes on top of a rise in family violence reports to Wayss over the past three years.

According to a Wayss report in May, survivors and perpetrators’ mental health was suffering due to the strain of Covid and lockdown.

Financial strain was being caused by the reduction of JobSeeker, the halting of JobKeeper and the end of the rental moratorium, it stated.

A Wayss spokesperson described the situation as “the culmination of a horrible year that doesn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel right now with the current lockdown”.

Ms Thomas said extra State Government emergency housing funds were required – as occurred during last year’s Covid restrictions.

According to the State Government, more than 450 people were “supported” in hotels at the start of lockdown. Homelessness service providers were reimbursed for accommodation in that time.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne said the Government acted “quickly” at the start of lockdown to “ensure rough sleepers are safe by offering them accommodation”.

The Government has committed $5.3 billion for its Big Housing Build – more than 12,000 social and affordable homes over then next four years.

In the 2021-’22 budget, it allocated more than $193 million on housing and homelessness support.