UNKNOWN TERRITORY: Emerald Neighbourhood director Jeanelle Horn fears an increase in homelessness.
UNKNOWN TERRITORY: Emerald Neighbourhood director Jeanelle Horn fears an increase in homelessness.

CQ support services predict rise in homelessness

EMERGENCY housing services in Emerald are warning of a flood of lost homes and jobs caused by coronavirus, and fear that many will end up on the streets.

Anglicare housing and homelessness manager Adam Klaproth said homelessness was going to increase as businesses reduced trading or closed.

He did not consider resources sufficient to deal with his predicted need.

"If you're homeless you're going to be susceptible to contracting the virus. But what it is going to do is force a lot of people into homelessness.

"People are going to lose their jobs and fall into financial hardship and not be able to maintain their tenancies, forcing them to live on the street. We're expecting our emergency relief programs to be hit hard.

"We won't have the sufficient funds to keep up with the need, I don't imagine, in the emergency relief department."

Mr Klaproth said small business owners and casual employees who lose their jobs are most at risk, as their financial futures are quite unstable.

"They've probably made commitments to the money that they're earning," he said.

"All of a sudden they'll be pushed back to Newstart allowances and something's got to give there.

"Then there's the health and safety concerns and loss of life. I don't know how small business will survive through this if Queensland follows other states.

Mr Klaproth advised that everybody follow the measures put in place by the government.

The Emerald Neighbourhood Centre has stopped in-person interaction and is being run by phone, internet, and mail.

Director Jeanelle Horn said the sense of unknown was frightening.

"If you're already struggling to maintain a safe lifestyle in the sense of having housing and employment and food and clothing - if they aren't coming easily to you then getting the virus would be horrific.

"There aren't alternatives. If people become homeless, they would live in their car, if they one, or couchsurf in the community, which would then be a huge issue when it came to controlling the virus spread."

Ms Horn hoped that the Neighbourhood Centre would secure government support and that people who lose their jobs would be treated leniently by landlords.

"It's going to be extremely challenging for everyone working the community sector."

The Federal Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and temporarily supplementing them with an extra $550 a fortnight.

That payment is available to recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next six months.