Public policy is important in addressing public issues that affect the population and help improve the situation. Public issues often affect a large portion of the population, making it hard for them to live in a comfortable way. Homelessness is a major public issue in Australia, as evident by the over 116,000 homeless people in the country. A public policy on this issue is important in reducing the issue of homelessness and the associated challenges of homelessness. Therefore, this paper highlights a public policy submission and a campaign strategy to advocate for the change in the public policy on homelessness.
It is a pleasure of the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) to provide this submission regarding the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) public policy. The policy needs change, and the CHP can facilitate such a change through an effective policy submission. The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) is an organization that represents the individuals and organizations committed to ending homelessness (CHP, 2020). The CHP finds many problems with the current policy addressing the homeless and proposes changes to the policy to ensure it improves on its effectiveness while addressing the different issues affecting the homeless in the country. It is in this context that the organization proposes the following changes through public submission.
We are deeply concerned with the governance of the housing system as it needs an effective change to ensure effective leadership in the different approaches to housing. The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) is a public policy aimed at improving the transparency in government funding processes for the homeless (NHHA, 2020). The role of improving the transparency in government funding processes for the homeless is not enough if there is no effective leadership to facilitate the changes. The unaffordability problem is faced with different gaps in the policy as the initiatives addressing the discrete symptoms of the issue are usually self-defeating (Gans & King, 2014). The term “housing affordability challenge” is a set of highly linked problems that need a holistic evaluation and understanding to ensure effective facilitation of the policy. Every year over 288,000 Australians seek assistance from homelessness services, with the number even expected to grow (AIHW, 2020). Such issues need a broad spectrum of actions that aim at addressing the causes of unaffordability. Therefore, this is a major challenge even in the operations of the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP).
The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) and other organizations face many challenges while addressing the issue of homelessness and handling the homeless. Some of these challenges are a result of the deficiency in the policy, as evident by the case of the housing affordability challenge (CHP, 2020). The policy loosely defines the housing affordability challenge making it difficult to trace and take the necessary actions for the homeless. Addressing the issue of housing affordability challenge requires involvement by both tiers of the government. The best approach to this situation would involve a well laid out and described clarification on the housing affordability challenge by addressing the specific requirements that define this term (Pawson et al., 2019). The current policy on the issue gives a loose definition that makes the term more general, and this is a challenge when addressing the issue of homelessness.
On the financial aspect, the government, through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) policy, should enhance bridging of the funding gap for social as well as affordable housing. The states have no capability of delivering any significant increment in social or affordable housing as isolated entities (Morris, 2019). The approach requires a multi-government approach to help in the process of addressing the funding gap in the long term and in any effective way. The recent announcement by the Commonwealth on a bond aggregator model is important in achieving an important contribution by helping the Community Housing Providers (CHPs) finance new projects and developments (CHP, 2020). The bond in itself, however, is not enough to achieve the homelessness objectives.
The bond is a necessity and important inclusion in this approach, but it requires a combination of efforts for its effectiveness in the social and affordable housing initiatives. Lower finance is not the major problem derailing the delivery of new rental stock that is below-market states (Lindblom, 2011). The major issue, in this case, is the need for a clear subsidy from the government’s side to ensure investors in affordable rental housing have guarantees and surety on the future viability of such investments in affordable housing. Many investors are ready and willing to dive into such investments, but the challenge lies with the lack of a clear subsidy (Heath, 2018). Many of the investors would approach such an investment with more confidence and facilitate the reduction of the homeless as a direct subsidy on funding from the government would bridge the funding gap for social as well as affordable housing (Gans & King, 2014). It is therefore important for the government and associated stakeholders to make the necessary adjustments to the current policy.
The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) bill was introduced into the Federal government in a context of a lack of a national plan relating to either housing or homelessness (NHHA, 2020). However, the policy has achieved less in facilitating changes and improvements on these issues. The policy also aimed at addressing the minimal investment in social housing growth as the last serious investment of that sort was during the global financial crisis of 2008, whereby the government facilitated a stimulus investment as a response (Schwartz, 2020). Therefore, the development of this policy was meant to address the different issues that required an effective policy on the issue.
The CHP considers the need to address important issues in the policy, such as the housing affordability challenge. Therefore, we consider the development of a national affordable housing strategy as an important tool in addressing the housing affordability crisis through the reform of federal policy drivers such as taxation (CHP, 2020). The national affordable housing also helps facilitate new investment that will enhance the significant growth in social housing. There is also a need for change in the current policy to ensure low-income earners have the necessary purchasing power in the rental and housing market. State and territory governments should reveal commitments in matching new funds with other state actions and state investments to leverage new supply (Gans & King, 2014). These critical solutions to the current approaches would help improve the rising issue of housing affordability. Addressing this issue is integral in reducing homelessness among the population as more people are able to afford shelter through the rental and housing provisions.
A national initiative for ending homelessness needs extra funding to facilitate the best approaches. The practices are aimed at scaling across the country and facilitating federal actions that address the major drivers of homelessness (Schwartz, 2020). Some of these major drivers include domestic and family violence, lack of adequate low-cost housing facilities for rental, and the lack of adequate income levels and security for individuals that depend on social security payments (Pawson et al., 2019). However, the government has not taken such steps, and this implies that the situation of homelessness remains a major crisis that is likely to grow if the situation does not change.
A change in the policy thus addresses the need for the introduction of mechanisms that are likely to foster the ridging of the funding gap for social as well as affordable housing. The proposals also focus on addressing the need for an affordable national housing plan as the current policy does not provide any requirement on the national government to deliver a plan for the national housing issue (Pawson et al., 2019). Therefore, there is a need for change in the current policy to ensure more effective addressing of the shared responsibility between the different levels of government in contributing towards the achievement of outcomes (Heath, 2018). The policy also addresses the need for additional federal investment towards social housing as this could improve the accommodation processes and reduce homelessness. Effective adoption of such changes would help improve the situation in the country.
There is no doubt that our housing system is broken, and there is a need for immediate change to this to help curb the rising issue of homelessness. Policy submission provides important considerations and proposals for the current policy. To facilitate the adoption of such changes, a campaign would be important and thus an associated effective campaign strategy (Stack & Flower, 2017). The main objective of this campaign is to reach out to the policymakers in the most effective and moving way to ensure they adopt the proposals and changes. The campaign’s strategy will thus aim at informing the masses on the necessary steps of action towards the problem. To achieve this, it is important for many people to sign the petition.
The campaign strategy will also aim at mobilizing the homeless to ensure they make their voices heard concerning their situation. Mobilizing the homeless will require an informed process of matching from one common meeting point to the necessary government and legislative offices (Kingdon, 2011). Carrying banners during the process, the homeless will inform the policymakers of their need to feel the warmth of warm houses with decent roofs and favorable living conditions.
An effective campaign strategy will start from within the organization. It is important to enhance internal knowledge within the organization on the proposed changes to the policy (Heath, 2018). This approach will ensure buy-in of the initiative and create an understanding of the required changes. An effective strategy will also require an understanding of the social and political context of the population to ensure that the adopted initiative receives a positive response and is in line with the societal norms (Kingdon, 2011). Also, in approaching the campaign, it is important to frame the message in a meaningful context to enhance the short-term and long-term effectiveness of the strategies (Stack & Flower, 2017). The message in the campaign is simple and clear as it uses the three key messages. By building partnerships with communities, the CHP organization will achieve its objectives.
The homeless face many challenges as they cannot afford a home for their shelter, which is an implication of lacking a basic need. As a stakeholder in public policy, it is important to identify the associated organizations that relate to the homeless and their daily activities. The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) is an organization that represents the individuals and organizations committed to ending homelessness. The proposal offers possible changes to the NHAA policy to enhance its effectiveness in addressing homelessness.
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