People facing homelessness across the state could be left with services lacking the necessary experience and connections to the community, warns Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on housing.
She says it could result under the NSW government’s recently announced funding packages.
‘I’m alarmed by what I’m hearing from service providers and community organisations across NSW. Helping people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness requires the expertise and trust that can only come from close engagement with local communities.
‘I’m concerned that the need to retain community connections and experience have been lost in the decision-making process, and that the service changes that are already beginning will leave some people without the same accessibility to specialised local supports.’
The NSW government’s Going Home, Staying Home funding packages were announced recently.
‘Since the packages were announced, I’ve heard concerns about the outcomes and the process,’ said Ms Barham. ‘It appears that local knowledge wasn’t adequately utilised in the assessment of tenders, resulting in the loss of experienced specialist services. What I’m hearing is anxiety about the future of homelessness services throughout regional NSW, as well as in the city.
‘In just a few days I’ve been presented with concerns that new services may lack much-needed local connections, that some organisations who weren’t successful with all their tender applications may not be viable, and that some service packages won’t meet the needs of local communities.’
Ms Barham also noted that the looming end of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness risked leaving homelessness services underfunded into the future.
‘The federal government has reduced the funding beyond July 1, 2014, and there is no ongoing agreement between the states and the Commonwealth. Without a partnership we will see a decline in overall funding and reduced support to the vulnerable.’