Ending Homelessness Together

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A word from our Acting CEO, Brad Webb:

“Ending homelessness together” is the theme of this year’s Homelessness Week; a week to raise awareness of homelessness in all its forms as well as the issues faced by people experiencing homelessness and the action needed to achieve solutions.

Ending homelessness sounds like a colossal task, and it is – but it’s entirely possible. And there are simple ways for you to get involved.

  • Everybody’s Home is a national campaign with an easy-to-understand website where you can learn more about how widespread homelessness is in Australia. You can use this information to write to your local MP to let them know this is an important issue to you.
  • This Digital Supporter Toolkit gives you many options of ways to support the Everybody’s Home campaign during Homelessness Week, including signing the online petition and following them on Facebook or Twitter.
  • The Big Ideas Homelessness Network is a Hunter-based initiative offering the opportunity to digitally sign a pledge and commit to ending homelessness.
  • Your local community will likely have homelessness services that seek financial or in-kind support. At this time of year there are local Connect Day events, designed to provide a one-stop-shop of free support services for people experiencing homelessness. Hunter Homeless Connect Day took place at the end of last month and Coast Connect Day (Central Coast) is on today, August 7. Organisers often do call-outs for donations of items like warm clothing leading up to these annual events. If you think you’re able to help in the future you could follow their social media accounts.

Many people are understandably unaware at how widespread homelessness is – how can you be aware of something that is mostly invisible?

People experiencing homelessness aren’t just the rough sleepers you occasionally see living on the street or camped in parks. Rough sleepers are often referred to as the ‘tip of the iceberg’; they represent only 6% of people experiencing homelessness.

Other forms of homelessness are less visible and include couch surfing at a friend’s or relative’s house, sleeping in a car or staying at a short-term crisis refuge – any sleeping arrangement where the dwelling is inadequate, has short or no tenure and does not allow a person to have control of or access to space for social relations[i].

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Australia is astonishing.

Right now, more than 116,000 people are homeless in Australia[ii].

Just last week Mission Australia released data from their annual National Youth Survey showing that 1 in 6 young Australians had experienced homelessness, either alone after having to leave a family home or as part of a family unit who became homeless.

So how do people become homeless? The main causes of homelessness are poverty, unaffordable rents and family violence[iii].

At Samaritans we run a number of homelessness support services. We see young people who must leave unstable homes and couch surf with friends, such as Natalie who wrote of her experiences here. We see families sleeping in their cars because the breadwinner was retrenched and suddenly there’s not enough money to cover rent and bills. We see women with children fleeing domestic violence and left with nowhere to go, such as this story from Natasha who camped in the car with her children.

For those who are most vulnerable, finding affordable and appropriate housing is an incredibly hard task.

Samaritans research released earlier this year as part of the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot showed that locally, more people are being pushed into rental stress and hardship because of the shortage of secure, affordable housing. The trend has continued to worsen for people on government benefits who are trying to find a suitable place to live in the private rental market.

Affordable, stable and appropriate housing that is accessible to all people must be a priority of our governments.

The Everybody’s Home Campaign highlights the urgent need for a coherent National Housing Strategy to generate half a million social and affordable homes by 2026. This can only happen with commitment from our State and Federal governments. As detailed in this article from The Conversation, a decade ago the Australian Government committed to a strategy to halve national homelessness by 2020. As succeeding governments have abandoned the strategy, homelessness in Australia has been on the rise.

We cannot accept that homelessness to too big of a problem to solve. There’s something everyone can do to learn more about homelessness and advocate for change. Let’s End Homelessness Together.

 

[i] Source: https://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/sites/homelessnessaus/files/2017-07/Homelessness%20in%20Australiav2.pdf

[ii] Source: https://everybodyshome.com.au

[iii] Source https://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/