Australians who have no place to call "home" is increasing, and that should not be happening in Australia where we have one of the highest standards of living in the world.
In fact, the most recent count of rough sleepers in NSW recorded 1,623 people compared to 1,207 people last year.
Regional areas are particularly affected with Byron Bay, Clarence Valley, Eurobodalla, and Coffs Harbour joining the City of Sydney in the five areas with the highest increase.
Meanwhile, another set of data showed that 18,074 Victorians experienced homelessness over the long term.
In comparison, just 3313 people were allocated social housing in 2018-2019.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Specialist Homelessness Services report revealed 22.5% of people who received homelessness services in 2018/19 also did so within two years before and after accessing support.
Based on these data, it's crucial for the government to step up and provide more support for homelessness services and construct additional social housing.
Council to Homeless Persons Chief Executive Officer Deborah Di Natale said:
"Having a large cohort of people experiencing homelessness long-term sends a clear message that there is simply not enough social housing in Victoria.
The scale of the housing and homelessness crisis is enormous but not insurmountable.
Building 6000 social housing properties each year for a decade will put us within touching distance of ending homelessness.
It’s so crucial that we never lose sight of how important it is to have programs that support the people in our community with the greatest vulnerability
Targeted measures including wraparound support are key to addressing homelessness.
The housing crisis will simply not go away.
Decisive action will have incredible economic and social benefits for Victoria."
Homelessness NSW CEO Trina Jones also commented:
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"The rising cost of living and a dire shortage of affordable rental homes is fuelling a homelessness crisis across NSW.
Frontline services are so overwhelmed they can only help half the people who present to them and must make heartbreaking decisions about who to turn away.
We can end street sleeping but we need to invest in what works.
The Together Home Program supported over 1,000 people off the streets into safe homes.
It’s funded for those currently in the program until next year but doesn’t have the resources to accept new people into the program.
The government must also urgently invest in more social housing which has been allowed to plunge over the past decade to historically low levels with waiting times blowing out to more than 10 years."
Here are some key facts from the NSW data:
• 68,500 people were supported by Specialist Homelessness Services in NSW in 2022
• NSW currently builds an average of 34,000 residential dwellings per year
• Approximately 700 - or just 2% are social housing
• At the current rate of social housing investment, it will take over 80 years to meet the current demand of the waiting list
- There were 31,660 people - or 39.4% of the 80,361 involved in the AIHW study - in need of long-term housing.
- In 2018/19, 58% of people who experienced homelessness did so for more than three months.
- Nearly two-thirds of people who received specialist homelessness services in 2018/19 were women, more than 10% were Indigenous and nearly 40% had mental health issues
The way our cities are becoming more unequal over time is shaping the changes in the geography of homelessness.
Governments must find ways to urgently increase both the supply and size of affordable rental dwellings for people with the lowest incomes.
We also require better integration of planning, labour, income support and housing policies targeted to areas of high need.
It is critical that specialist homelessness services, as a first response to homelessness, are well located to respond in areas where demand is highest.
A model for funding permanent supportive housing needs to be developed.
Federal Labor pledged this project would take shape in 2023, but obviously, nothing has progressed
More broadly, these deliberations must be underpinned by the recognition that our current ways of developing, operating and commodifying housing produce homelessness