New hamper program helping keep hope alive for those escaping homelessness

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June 14, 2018

People entering crisis accommodation will be supported by a new partnership between Foodbank Victoria and Launch Housing, one of Melbourne’s leading homelessness organisations.

With rates of homelessness and waiting lists for public housing at an all-time high, the new Essential Pantry Program will help relieve pressure on people transitioning into 600 of Launch Housing’s crisis accommodation sites.

“It’s the small things that can really make a difference. Moving into crisis accommodation and being supplied with an essential hamper makes you feel like somebody cares. It’s these things that help keep hope alive,” said Emma, a former recipient of Launch Housing services.

New tenants will receive hampers filled with personal hygiene items, generously donated by Foodbank partner Asaleo Care, and staple food items sourced by Foodbank. Each hamper is valued at $245.

“It’s clear that the housing crisis is hitting people hard. With the exponential increase in housing prices and the decrease in affordable and appropriate accommodation, many families and individuals are being forced into homelessness and crisis housing,” said Foodbank Victoria CEO Dave McNamara.

Last month Launch Housing released its Australian Homelessness Monitor, highlighting the scope of the housing problem. Between 2011 and 2016, homelessness increased by 14 per cent and rough sleeping by 20 per cent in Australia. In Victoria, almost 25,000 people were homeless on Census night in 2016.

Last week, a parliamentary inquiry revealed 82,000 people, including 25,000 children, are on the waiting list for public housing in Victoria.

“The Essential Pantry program is a targeted approach to help alleviate some of the worry and financial pressure for people transitioning into temporary accommodation – whether due to being priced out of the rental market or fleeing a dangerous or unstable home life,” Mr McNamara said.

“Over the next 12 months we hope to prove the benefits of the program so it can be rolled out more widely.”

Heather Holst, Acting CEO of Launch Housing, welcomed the partnership.

“Thanks to Foodbank and Asaleo Care, these hampers of food and personal products will go a long way in welcoming our clients into their new homes in the coming year,” she said.

“Sadly, lower income households are at a greater risk of experiencing poverty as housing prices and the cost of living — particularly food — continues to rise. This partnership means that new tenants in all our transitional and long-term housing, will have a solid starting point in their next chapter.”

To kick off the program, volunteers from Asaleo Care will pack the hygiene hampers, including sanitary items, nappies, toilet paper and other necessities that are costly yet vital, at the Foodbank Victoria warehouse on June 14.

“Asaleo Care makes many of the essential products people use every day in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Our popular products like Sorbent, Libra, Handee Ultra and Deeko can be found in every household. Most of us don’t think twice about being able to buy them,” said Sid Takla, Interim CEO, Asaleo Care.

“But not everyone. For some, access to food, clothing and shelter is a major struggle – anything more is out of reach. That’s why we’ve joined with Launch Housing through Foodbank to help make it easier for hygiene, health and wellbeing to be part of everyday life for everyone. Taking care is at the heart of what we do. We’re very proud to be a leading supporter of this initiative.”

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