Young people do not choose homelessness. A number of issues lead to young people becoming homeless, overcrowding, domestic violence, family breakdowns, mental health issues and financial difficulties. Kids Under Cover, a non-profit that supports young people at risk of homelessness, have seen it all.
These issues affecting young people have only multiplied since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people rely significantly on insecure work, so many have been forced to move back into the family home during the pandemic. For young people in unstable and overcrowding living conditions this pandemic and stay at home restrictions have been devastating. As a result, Kids Under Cover have seen a significant increase in the number of young people at risk of homelessness.
Rod Barton MP believes that more needs to be done to ensure that non-profits like Kids Under Cover have access to the resources they need to fill this gap in the community.
Kids Under Cover run a Studio Program, where one- or two-bedroom studios are built in the backyards of a family or carer’s home. This provides stable and secure accommodation for young people at risk of homelessness while keeping them connected with their family. This Program reduces the number of people trying to access our public housing system, which is already under immense pressure.
Last year, Kids Under Cover built 66 studios for 102 young people bringing the total number of studios to 634, housing 936 young people. However, in May 2020 they had to close their applications due to an increase in demand and lack of funding. Since then, they have had 900 calls for support by young people and families, but they have been unable to progress them even to a waitlist.
Kids Under Cover rely mostly on philanthropy to fund their essential service to our community. Last year, the Victorian Government through Homes Victoria provided core program funding for only 18 studios, despite committing $5.4 billion to the Big Housing Build. Barton believes that we should not have to rely on philanthropy in order to protect our most vulnerable from becoming homeless.
Without this support, many young people will struggle with homelessness their entire lives. Barton believes we must do better.
Housing must come first.
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan and the Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP:
“Without safe and affordable housing all other support services fall short. Housing must come first and then we can provide important wrap-around services.”
“When our young people experience homelessness, they become vulnerable to a lifetime of unemployment, insecure housing and disadvantage. That is why early intervention is so important.”
Quotes attributable to Jo Swift, CEO of Kids Under Cover:
“Youth homelessness is preventable and can be solved through programs that focus on early intervention and prevention, like our Studio Program. Everyone has a right to a place to call home”
Media contact: Norm Dunn, Chief of Staff Rod Barton MP, 0438 175 113 Norm.firstname.lastname@example.org