Housing initiatives in tense wait on funding

Highly successful local housing initiatives will be forced to shut down if the federal government does not pledge further funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), according to Illawarra housing agencies.

The NPAH funds three housing projects in the Illawarra to the tune of up to $2 million, including a lauded youth accommodation foyer service and a service for victims of domestic violence.

The agreement runs out on June 30, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will not publicly comment on funding until after the federal budget.

Speaking on radio this week, Mr Abbott said he had "given [homelessness agencies] what I think are important words of comfort". He also said: "Come budget night ... I think people will be happy", but he did not reveal details.

Narelle Clay, chief executive of Southern Youth and Family Services, said: "Significant work has been done with these projects, but they will close after June 30 if funding is not continued.

"Losing that money would be nothing short of a tragedy for the people these services help."

The foyer service offers accommodation, employment and education for more than 30 young people in the Illawarra, while the domestic violence service gives emergency assistance to women and children affected by family violence.

Loekie Klevjer, manager of Wollongong Women's Housing, said Illawarra homelessness services needed more money, not less, and she hoped housing would be a priority in the upcoming federal budget. "These programs have made a dent in homelessness, but if we want to keep those gains, we need to keep the funding going," she said.

Her group was hesitant to commit to any new programs or ventures until the budget outlook became clearer, she said.

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