1 August 2022

Homelessness Week 2022: we need a plan

This week is Homelessness Week. This week, and every week, more than 116,000 people across Australia are currently experiencing homelessness (according to the 2016 Census). Devastatingly, the true number in 2022 is certain to be far higher.

Housing as a human right

Under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, every person has the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to adequate housing. The right to housing is more than simply a right to shelter. It is a right to have a home that is adequate, safe, affordable and accessible.

Beyond simply not having a home, homelessness also has considerable flow-on effects on a person’s ability to enjoy other basic rights and freedoms, including the right to family life and privacy, freedom of movement, assembly and association, health and development.

In Australia, homelessness is increasing. Rising rents, skyrocketing home prices and inadequate housing supply are backing people against a corner and into homelessness. Our shrinking proportion of social housing is leaving families with nowhere to turn once they are pushed out of the mainstream housing market.

What is Homelessness Week all about?

Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact homelessness has in Australia and educate citizens on how they can contribute to innovative housing solutions. National and local community events held from 1 to 7 August 2022 will provide an opportunity for homelessness to be addressed in local, state and national government agendas.

The theme for Homelessness Week 2022 is ‘to end homelessness we need a plan’. The plan we need is a national one. Fortunately, the new Federal Government has now committed to developing a national housing and homelessness plan, giving hope to those who have been suffering.

Many of the national events held throughout the country during Homelessness Week will be discussing the practicalities of what the proposed plan requires to be effective in resolving homelessness in Australia.

How can you help?

In the lead up to and during Homelessness Week, individuals and organisations are encouraged to participate by supporting campaigns, attending events and sharing messages.

To help, you can:

Housing affordability affects every Australian. If we do not act now, nothing will change. We need the help and support of our communities to build momentum and public support for the government to create a plan that can fund social housing and other solutions to the homelessness crisis.

Our Pro Bono work aimed at homelessness

Hall & Wilcox provides significant national pro bono legal support for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

We provide assistance to individuals facing a range of legal issues, including tenancy, credit and debt, victims’ compensation, employment, social security, fines, police complaints and more, in particular through our partnership with Justice Connect Homeless Law and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre's Homeless Persons Legal Service in Sydney and Raymond Terrace.

We also provide pro bono support to not-for-profits working in the homelessness space, such as For Change Co, a social enterprise that runs hospitality businesses and reinvest 100% of the profits into programs aimed at curbing youth homelessness; Anika Legal, which provides free legal advice to tenants in Victoria; and Ladder, which provides case management, mentoring and housing services to young people at risk of homelessness.

We also utilise our commercial expertise to assist with investments in and the development of social and affordable housing.

Social Housing: an investment in affordable homes

Partner Katrina Reye from our Social & Affordable Housing team has been supporting the development of social and affordable housing for many years, including advising on investment in this sector.

Hall & Wilcox has acted for state and local government, public and private companies and not-for-profit organisations in this space, and we are committed to helping tackle the affordable housing challenges facing the community. We have worked on a number of major social housing, Build-to-Rent and National Disability Insurance Scheme projects.

Katrina Reye said, 'Hall & Wilcox is proud of the work it does with community housing providers to deliver more social and affordable houses to people in need of homes. The economic conditions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have escalated the dire need for this housing in the community. With wait lists of well over 10 years for a home in key locations, social and affordable housing is critically needed infrastructure. This work is part of Hall & Wilcox’s vision of enabling our communities to thrive.'

For more information about our pro bono legal work and clinics assisting people experiencing homelessness, please contact Nathan Kennedy.

To learn more about the latest developments in the social and affordable housing sector, you can contact Katrina Reye.

This article was written by Dan Poole, Ella Bilton-Gough and Nathan Kennedy.

Contact

Nathan Kennedy

Nathan has over 20 years' experience as an insurance lawyer advising insurers on CTP litigation and liability claims.

Katrina Reye

Katrina is a property & projects lawyer who practises in commercial law and specialises in major property developments.