Victoria's youth homelessness crisis is becoming more entrenched with services acting more as a revolving door than helping people find secure accommodation, as new data shows two-thirds of young people accessing frontline homelessness services are returning.
Melbourne City Mission (MCM) released the new data showing a spike in young people aged between 16 and 24 cycling through youth homeless and crisis accommodation and warned state and federal governments a lack of social housing is fuelling the worsening problem.
Over the last five years, 63 per cent of the young people in Victoria who came to the state-wide youth homelessness entry point, Frontyard, had to cycle back more than twice. Of those, 253 young people over this period re-entered the youth homelessness entry point more than four times and, in some cases, more than 10 times, with significant mental health and safety concerns.
MCM CEO, Vicki Sutton says governments need to increase the number of social housing properties available to young people across Australia by making sure that all new social housing commitments allocate a proportion of new homes for young people, otherwise they will miss out.
“Nationally, more than half of all single people who seek help from homelessness services are young people, but they hold only 2.9 per cent of tenancies in social housing.
“The current business model for social housing means many mainstream providers struggle to house young people because they have low and insecure incomes and often need wrap around support. Private rental in Australia is largely unaffordable for people on youth wages or Youth Allowance.
“Youth housing models are needed that provide housing that is affordable to young people with the support they need. If we don’t act now and intervene early to stop young people ricocheting from one homelessness program to the next, we will create more homeless adults in the future.
In a country where young people account for 25 per cent of people without a home, Ms Sutton says new investments in social and affordable housing present state and federal governments with an opportunity to put an end to the youth homelessness crisis.
“Victoria urgently needs a stand-alone youth homelessness strategy to complement investments in social housing.
“The Federal Government also needs to play their part by investing in youth housing and support for young people so they can recover from the trauma of homelessness and build life skills that enable them to move forward independently,” Sutton said.
Jenny Smith, Chair of Homelessness Australia, said gaps in youth homelessness services lead to young people fall through gaps.
"Youth housing is the difference between young people thriving or reinforcing the trauma that resulted in them becoming homeless.
"Young people experiencing homelessness need homes to be able to stay connected to education or work, look after their health, and form community connections."