Plan needed to end homelessness

Growing numbers affected: Homelessness is an issue for all in the community to help solve. Photo by Megan Fisher

The Greater Shepparton Foundation builds partnerships and collaborations to connect the needs of the local community with essential resources and skills to tackle and disrupt the cycle of disadvantage. The Foundation Features series will help shine a light on those driving change through innovative initiatives, as well as highlight community organisations that align with the foundation’s purpose.

It’s Homelessness Week. And here in the Greater Shepparton region it is an issue top of mind for our community as we learn of the growing numbers of people who are experiencing, or at risk of, life without a secure home.

At the moment we have more than 3500 households experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and growing, due to rising costs of living, domestic violence and the lack of affordable housing for those in crisis.

Safe housing is one of our major focus areas and we work with a number of support services in our region to provide relief and more importantly realise solutions for people who do not have their own roof over their head.

We welcome the theme this year, ‘to end homelessness we need a plan’, as our efforts are based on working with others who have expertise in this area and provide locally led place-based solutions to strengthen our community.

We know we can’t solve this persistent problem on our own, so a plan is needed to make sure all our efforts work together to make a difference, both locally and on a national level.

To this end GSF had partnered with the local Salvation Army to support, but also learn about, the people locally who suffer from, or face imminent, homelessness.

GSF and SalvoCare established a brokerage fund to assist a significant cohort of individuals, couples and in particular families, providing them with the necessary items they required to ease financial stress, and in some instances, prevented homelessness.

• The majority of support focused on families. Seventy-seven per cent of recipients were identified as being either a ‘single person with child’ or a ‘couple with children’.

• The families that were supported included 57 children. This implies that a significant cohort of families with young children were struggling to survive on their own and in need of accommodation that was safe and secure.

• Seventy-two per cent of the recipients were couch-surfing. All of these supported clients are now housed.

• Unprecedented increases in private rental costs and a severe shortage of private rental options are emerging as key contributors to homelessness and barriers to housing outcomes. The public housing wait can still be years.

• Case managers are seeing the beginnings of a landslide of private rental evictions.

GSF will continue to find ways to support struggling families and others in our local community, but we are acutely aware this complex issue needs a concerted and co-ordinated effort to make a real difference. In the meantime, we are calling on our community to be educated on the issue, as this can affect any of us at any time. Just like Lisa (pseudonym) who told us her story.

Lisa is a single mum with four children. Lisa and her children had to flee their family home due to extreme family violence. They lost all their personal belongings and household furniture and white goods.

SalvoCare was able to secure stable accommodation for Lisa and her family, providing the stability to address medical issues and for her children to re-engage with education. With the creative use of our brokerage funds Lisa was able to establish a home, allowing her to access community services and to build important social connections for the family’s health and well-being.

To read more about the projects we support please visit our website,

Until next time,

The GSF Team