COVID-19: Immediate housing response fund to support Queensland’s most vulnerable
- Last updated:
- 22 April 2020 2:31PM
- First published:
- 26 March 2020 2:31PM
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community and place additional pressure on community service providers, we’ve established an Immediate Response Fund of $24.7 million from existing resources to deliver enhanced housing support. This eight-point plan enhances the work we are already doing to respond to the housing, homelessness and to support the needs of vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These additional services will support vulnerable people including women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, young people, people with a disability, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- For people in urgent housing need, specialist homelessness services will have access to funding to deliver additional services, such as motel or hotel accommodation for individuals and families who need to self-isolate or otherwise need temporary accommodation.
- We will also assist vulnerable people who have been identified through Local Disaster Management Groups.as needing to self-isolate but who require assistance to do so.
- We’ll also enhance outreach services to people sleeping rough across the state, to encourage their continued engagement with the service system and the support they need to take steps into housing. Services will be focused in nine priority areas through the existing integrated service response teams in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Redlands, Logan and the Gold Coast. These teams connect the department with local service providers to identify people in housing need - particularly those sleeping rough - and to support their often-complex needs.
- We’re also bringing forward our Dignity First Fund Round 5 to assist vulnerable people during the COVID-19 response, and re-focussing initiatives funded through the recent Dignity First Round 4 to respond to COVID-19 if other funded projects will be unable to progress.
- Older Queenslanders and people of any age with a disability may require an extra helping hand to safely remain in their homes, self-isolate and continue to access the essential services they need to remain safe and healthy during this time. We will call on our Home Assist Secure (HAS) services to reach out to previous and current clients, and proactively expand their current service offerings for older Queenslanders and people of any age with a disability. This will allow clients to remain in their homes and practice social distancing or self-isolation, with HAS services undertaking tasks such as deliveries of groceries (‘knock and drop’ where required), medications and other wellbeing materials. HAS services will also offer regular welfare checks and referrals to community services and continue to deliver existing home security and minor modification services.
- The private rental market will also be supported with access to bond loans, bond loan plus and rental grants for people impacted by COVID-19 and those who may have lost their income. The department will use discretion in approving these products for people who are not ordinarily eligible so they can maintain their existing rental homes or access the private rental market if they experience hardship during this time.
- We will support frontline housing and homelessness service providers to access and pay for casual replacement staff, where staff are unable to come to work due to illness or self-isolation. The safety and wellbeing of sector staff is a priority and this will support front line housing and homelessness service providers to continue to respond to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and adapt their service or staffing models to reduce risks associated with COVID-19 for both staff and clients.
- We understand the challenges specialist homeless services face in managing hygiene and responding to the need for social distancing in shared facilities. We’re supporting specialist homelessness services and Crisis Accommodation Program properties with support to deep clean properties through QBuild arrangements, should a COVID-19 outbreak be identified. We are also supporting funded providers to purchase cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment if required and assisting other private boarding house accommodation providers should they have difficulty in obtaining cleaning services.
- In collaboration with specialist homelessness service providers, we will work to increase opportunities for social distancing for people in crisis-accommodation through a rapid housing response. We will move quickly to transfer vulnerable people currently living in congregate living arrangements, where amenities are shared, into self-contained accommodation.
We will continue to engage with our sector partners as Queensland’s pandemic response evolves to ensure we adapt our programs and service response to meet changing need.