Call for action on Vic youth homelessness

The only way Victoria's youth homelessness "crisis" will end is if 5000 new social housing properties are built in the next four years, according to a coalition of dozens of peak bodies and leading welfare services.

The group has written to Labor, the Coalition and the Greens asking the next government to commit to a new strategy to tackle the issue.

The letter is signed by the CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons Jenny Smith and includes other signatories such as Victorian Council of Social Service, Berry Street, Anglicare Victoria, Melbourne City Mission and The Salvation Army.

More than 17,700 people aged 15-24 sought some form of help from homelessness services in 2021.

Furthermore, 8830 young people asked for help accessing medium or long-term accommodation but more than 5000 of them had to be turned away.

The group said they welcomed recent investment in homelessness and housing, however, resources have been skewed towards adults.

They are calling for 60,000 new social housing properties to be built over the next decade.

In Victoria, just over 600 transitional or long-term properties are designated for young people experiencing homelessness while only 238 young people were lead tenants in public housing properties.

Ms Smith said the longer younger people lived in insecure housing, the more likely they would become involved with the justice system or develop serious mental health and medical issues.

"Young people are becoming trapped in homelessness because Victoria doesn't have sufficient resourcing or a joined-up system to prevent and respond to youth homelessness," Ms Smith said.

"The massive gap between the amount of young people seeking help and social housing designated for young people is now a crisis."

A Victorian government spokesperson said it was constructing 12,000 new homes as part of its "Big Housing Build" social and affordable housing program, including $50 million worth of homes earmarked for at-risk young people.

Recently, the Greens announced their push for a Youth Housing Guarantee, which would ensure people under 25 have appropriate housing through a $100 million boost to the sector over four years.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party was unable to provide a comment.