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Showing posts from April, 2021


Homelessness 4- Interim Solutions

Homeless on a Bench     Image by Tomas Castelazo , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons   Obviously we need long term solutions for homelessness. We need to address structural factors such as unemployment and commodification of housing which are making housing unaffordable for many.   As well as creating affordable housing we need to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place. We also need to end criminalisation of the homeless and provide support for those who are on the streets because of mental illness or addiction.   The immediate rewards for communities which take action include reduction in crime, the costs of law enforcement and hospital costs and fewer unsightly and unsafe neighbourhoods. However, since the wheels of government turn slowly, many places and organisations are working to make life safer and more bearable for those already on our streets. I am mentioning some of them here for inspiration but most would also appreciate any support you can give wheth

Lessons from Melbourne

This article by  Kevin Bell, Professor, Law Resources, director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Steven Roberts is reprinted with kind permission from The Monash University's Lens project. Professor Bell's concluding remarks are especially telling. The COVID-19 pandemic opens the door to solving the homelessness problem Homelessness and the COVID-19 pandemic are deeply entwined. In Melbourne – the COVID capital of Australia – we've seen not only the homeless, among many vulnerable communities, hit hard from multiple angles. Public housing, aged care, migrant communities and transient workers in industries such as meat processing have all been pinpointed as contagion trigger points. The homeless are stuck in the middle of all this. Professor Kevin Bell AM, QC, a former Victorian Supreme Court justice, is director of Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law . He's a leading voice in human rights in Au

Homelessness 3 - Ways Forward

-Image by -LewiZ per Pixabay Despite the terrible toll which the pandemic has taken, there were two positive things to emerge from it with respect to the homeless. In Australia homeless people were housed in hotels and motels to prevent the spread of Covid.   Having stable housing, sanitation and a reasonable income meant that many were rehabilitated into society and some were even able to get jobs, despite widespread job losses generally. In the process, state governments learned that it was far cheaper to house the homeless than to spend money on interventions such as police callouts, health and emergency services and court appearances. A University of Queensland study found the state spent an average of $13,000 a year per person or $15 million over its 1000 homeless clients. The state of Victoria is now taking up leases on 1100 rental properties in order to house people permanently. See the next post for more detail. The high cost of doing nothing   Other countries have als

Homelessness – 2 How did we get here?

The right to a secure home is enshrined in the UN declaration of Human Rights which has been ratified by nearly all nations – at least 177 of them in 1977. The necessity of having a home is also at the very base of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs . Maslow argued that we cannot develop as human beings, much less fulfil our potential or contribute to society if our most basic needs for food, shelter and safety are not met.   If having a home is a basic human need, why are so many people homeless? Though homeless people speak about personal tragedies such as job loss, marital breakdown, chronic health or mental health problems including substance abuse, there are also structural problems such as under employment and the lack of affordable housing which have affected most advanced economies to varying degrees. Of necessity this will be a very brief snapshot, but see for example “Fair Shares,” (Stephen Bell and Michael Keating, Melbourne University Press, 2018) for a more detailed dis