Homeless in Melbourne – the crisis an election can’t cloak

Victorian government’s efforts under fire as scores of people are turned away from homelessness services each day.

On a weekday afternoon during Victoria’s state election campaign, James is slumped against the front of a 7-Eleven store in Melbourne’s CBD, coughing and spluttering but mostly just lamenting.

“It’s got to the point where I’ve given up trying to look for housing,” he says, sitting about 50 metres from the state parliament. “They always say, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing available.’”

James has been living on the streets for about 10 years. As Victorians watch the votes coming in on election night, he’ll be among about 400 people sleeping rough in Melbourne’s CBD and inner-city suburbs.

Most service providers say the Victorian government has made a real effort to tackle homelessness and housing issues in Melbourne. Still, the statistics make for grim reading.

About 82,000 people are on the state’s public housing waiting list, 24,000 of them children. Last financial year, 118 new apartments were added to the state’s pool of public housing, department data released this month shows. In July, the list was growing by 500 names every month. There was also a 11% increase in homelessness between the 2011 and 2016 census.

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Source: The Gurdian