Funding lifeline offers hope to under-pressure housing agencies

Loekie Klevjer, Totsi Todorovska and Michelle Godwin at the Wollongong Women's Housing office. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Loekie Klevjer, Totsi Todorovska and Michelle Godwin at the Wollongong Women's Housing office. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Illawarra housing agencies at risk of folding after failing to receive funding under recent homelessness reforms may have been thrown a lifeline, after the state government announced a second-chance round of cash.

Providers unsuccessful in the Going Home Staying Home tender process can apply for 18 months' additional funding under the Service Support Fund from the Department of Family and Community Services.

FACS documents state unsuccessful tender applicants "must hand over existing services, clients and Government properties" to successful services by October 2014, but may apply for 100 per cent of their 2013-14 funding allocation for services to fill gaps arising in the transition period.

Local services Wollongong Emergency Family Housing (WEFH) and Wollongong Women's Housing (WWH) were at risk of closing after not receiving funding under Going Home Staying Home.

Loekie Klevjer from WWH said she would likely be forced to let some staff go even if they received all their previous funding.

The service will be forced to surrender rent-generating housing stock, meaning WWH will be facing a cash shortfall.

"Government funding was only one part of our income. The housing brought in the other part of our funding," Ms Klevjer said.

WEFH manager Julie Mitchell said the service would apply to continue outreach programs and their successful Homeless Hub.

"It is a lifeline. It keeps us alive into the future," Ms Mitchell said.

Ms Mitchell said WEFH would use the extra time to look for funding to continue the service beyond the 18-month funding window.

FACS also announced a Sector Employment Assistance Scheme for staff from services which did not receive funding. Assistance including online job boards, recruiting processes and information sessions will be available to affected workers.

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