The Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program (SHASP) is one of the most successful homelessness prevention programs in Victoria’s history. But the Victorian government’s proposed cuts to front line staff put over 2000 Victorians, including children, at risk of homelessness. Loddon Campaspe CLC’s sibling program, Tenant Advocacy and Support, is one of several SHASP services across Victoria that’s now at risk.
SHASP services offer support and advocacy to vulnerable tenants facing difficulties in relation to their tenancies. The funding cuts will limit the ability of SHASP services to support people at a critical time in their lives. The funding cuts form part of the State Government’s plan to address Victoria’s public housing debt. Unfortunately, the cuts to Victoria’s most successful homelessness prevention initiative will put thousands of Victorians, including children, at risk of homelessness.
Each year the Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program (SHASP) works with around 6,000 Victorian households at risk of homelessness, helping them to establish and sustain their tenancies in public and community housing.
SHASP’s success has been well documented and is measured in tenancies saved, trauma averted and cost savings across government services. In the six years SHASP has been in operation, the eviction rate in Victorian public housing has more than halved, from 13% to 6%.
Tenant Advocacy and Support works with people who are often not seeking assistance from anywhere else and offer support that directly aims at preventing people from becoming homeless. Providing support around housing issues also allows a range of other personal issues to be addressed and builds the capacity of people to maintain a home for themselves and their children.
It is particularly challenging for people in a rural area to get access to the support they need at the right time. Without the funding to address the issues of distance and isolation, tenants in the Loddon Mallee region will be going without.
Tenant Advocacy and Support joins the Wesley Mission Victoria, HomeGround, the Rural Housing Network and Bethany in opposing these cuts. The funding cuts will simply shift the burden from SHASP to other services (e.g. hospitals, health/mental health, child protection, family violence, disability and aged care) that will have to deal with increased numbers of people sleeping rough.
As Wesley Mission’s General Manager of Advocacy & Relationships noted in The Age on the 20th of July:
”It defies logic to cut this … people struggling to maintain their public housing tenancies will be made homeless because of a lack of support,” he said. ”You’re going to save [money] here but six months from now you’ll be overwhelmed because the homeless crisis section is already overwhelmed.
”I know [Ms Lovell] well enough to know she’s a passionate, caring person and that’s why I’m scratching my head [at this decision].”
SHASP services, however, are not taking the cuts lying down. The Save SHASP Campaign recently launched a new website that lays out the facts and explains how the state government’s funding cuts to this essential service are likely to affect some of the most vulnerable tenants in Victoria.
How you can help
The site is integrated with social media so it’s easy to show your support by signing the online petition, Liking the campaign on Facebook and inviting your Facebook friends to show their support. We urge you to jump on board and lend your support to this campaign.