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A VITAL service for vulnerable residents in public housing will have its funding slashed by up 40 per cent next year.
In what has been described as a "secret" announcement one month after the state budget was released, the Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program could be forced to axe staff and turn away clients.
SHASP works with households to prevent housing breakdown in public and community housing to ensure clients don't end up homeless again.
The program is facing a 24 per cent funding cut from October and a potential 40 per cent cut in the next budget.
UnitingCare Harrison, based in Knox, has four staff covering the eastern suburbs, as does Wesley Mission. General manager of homelessness services at UnitingCare Harrison, Mark Dixon, said there were more than 6000 public housing properties in the eastern region.
UnitingCare Harrison supported more than 300 tenants in the eastern region last year.
SHASP began six years ago and since then the eviction rate in Victorian public housing had fallen from 13 per cent to 6 per cent.
Mr Dixon said the cuts had left many service providers scratching their heads.
"Why cut something that works so well and create a huge amount of additional demand for homelessness, health, family violence and child protection services in the process, let alone the preventable trauma to the men, women and children involved?"
Mr Dixon said there had been no consultation with the state government and Housing Minister Wendy Lovell was wrong when she said any funding cuts would not impact on case management.
He said almost 100 per cent of the cuts would be to case management services and at least 2000 Victorian households at risk of tenancy breakdown could miss out on help. Even more would be affected if the 2013-14 cuts went ahead.
"A significant number of these households will inevitably lose their housing and become homeless as a result," Mr Dixon said.
SHASP helped "sort out solutions" for tenants - "we work the department and tenants so it's a win-win scenario for everyone".
A Save SHASP campaign is calling on the state government to urgently review the proposed second round of cuts next year in consultation with service providers, and guarantee the future of SHASP.
Cr Mick Van de Vreede moved at a Knox Council meeting last week that it write to the Premier, Ted Baillieu, and Ms Lovell requesting an urgent review into the cuts.
A government spokeswoman said the government was working with the welfare sector on a revised case management model for SHASP and the client targets for 2012-13 would be calculated as part of this consultation.
It would be reviewed as part of service system reform under way because "many other homelessness programs are similar in their intent to SHASP".