Thursday, 22 May 2008

Community urged to end homelessness stigma

A conference will be urged to seek ways to end the stigma of homelessness.

A conference in Adelaide is considering ways to prevent and respond to homelessness.

Simon Smith, from Homelessness Australia, says the issue affects many people at various stages of their lives.

Mr Smith says a housing affordability crisis has contributed to homelessness.

"The lack of affordable rental accommodation makes it hard for people to get out of homelessness because there just aren't enough affordable housing options for people to move into," he said.

"What we're also starting to see is an emerging group of people who are being placed at risk of homelessness because of high rents in the private rental market or people defaulting on mortgages.

"To really respond to homelessness we need to do three things - we need to work with people to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place, we need to improve services for people when they are homeless and we need to give them pathways out of homelessness and a big part of that is to create more affordable housing options."

Jo Wickes from Homelessness SA says there is a need to remove the stigma of being without accommodation.

"We need as a state and a community here in South Australia to stop blaming and stigmatising people who are homeless," she said.

"Any one of us could be homeless if the circumstances turned for us at any time and we need to recognise that."

Updated: 9:32 am (AEST)

More accommodation for the homeless and those on low incomes will be provided at Port Augusta and Port Adelaide.

More low-cost housing for SA

A joint federal and state plan will make 80 apartments available for low-income earners and the homeless in South Australia.

SA Premier Mike Rann has met former state thinker-in-residence Rosanne Haggerty in Washington to discuss low-cost housing projects for Port Augusta and Port Adelaide.

Ms Haggerty was behind the model for low-cost apartments that opened in central Adelaide last year.

Mr Rann says Port Augusta will get 40 similar apartments, with on-site support services, as will Port Adelaide.

"It's about providing a home rather than a temporary shelter," Mr Rann said.

Ms Haggerty is pleased about the efforts to tackle housing problems in SA.

"It's very logical that once people have some fundamental stability in their lives they're in a position to become contributors to the community," she said.

The SA Government will contribute $2.8 million from next month's Budget for the project.

Updated: 7:55 pm (AEST)

Domestic violence victims homeless

An investigation has found that the public housing shortage is forcing women in relationships involving severe domestic violence to wait as long as two years for permanent accommodation.

The South Australian Women's Housing Association has more than 500 women and their children on a public housing waiting list.

Last month the Domestic Violence Crisis Centre received 196 calls from women in need of emergency accommodation.

With Adelaide's women's shelters at capacity, more than 160 of them could not be offered a place.

Gilian Cordell from the Crisis Service says the situation is critical.

"We don't know where to advise clients now, we've got to a point where we feel desperate," she said.

Housing SA provides financial assistance for up to six nights emergency hotel accommodation, but domestic violence services say after that many women are being left with nowhere to go.

The State Government says it is trialing a family safety program to ensure adequate services for people in domestic violence are being provided.

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