Over-crowding the new homelessness crisis- report
5 June 2013 at 2:58 pm
The number of Australians living in “severely crowded” and temporary housing has seen the number of people classed as homeless rise significantly, casting doubt over COAG’s benchmark to reduce homelessness.
The fourth COAG Council reform report on the National Affordable Housing Agreement: Comparing Homelessness Across Australia stated COAG’s benchmark to reduce
homelessness by 7 per cent was unlikely to be met—but there has been progress on the benchmark to reduce Indigenous overcrowding.
The report revealed the number of people sleeping rough had fallen by 6 per cent between 2006 and 2011 with the numbers dropping from 7247 to 6813, but those living in over-crowded housing had risen.
According to ABS figures, rates of rough sleeping were highest in the Northern Territory (40 per 10 000 people), followed by Queensland (4 per 10 000 people) and Western Australia.
The report found the percentage of those who slept rough was only 6.5 per cent of all homeless people and the fall showed progress in addressing the most severe form of homelessness, according to the report.
In 2011, 41,390 people were living in severely crowded dwellings- almost 10,000 more than in 2006. Most of these people lived in major cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne, or in remote Indigenous communities, the report found.
The report revealed two thirds of the additional people living in severely crowded dwellings were people born overseas with many of these people likely to be recent migrants.
Indigenous Australians living in over-crowded housing make up 75 per cent of the Indigenous homeless population. Severe crowding is the major reason Indigenous homelessness rates are 14 times higher than the non-Indigenous population.
Indigenous people living in severely crowded dwellings in very remote areas of the Northern Territory represent 11 per cent of all homeless Australians.
The overall rate of Indigenous homelessness fell from 571 per 10 000 people in 2006 to 488 per 10 000 people in 2011—a 14.5 per cent drop.
COAG Reform Council Chairman, John Brumby said the council used 2011 Census data to allow them to focus on homelessness and indigenous overcrowding.
“I am pleased to report that there has been good progress in tackling the most readily recognised form of homelessness—rough sleeping,” he said.
“Between 2006 and 2011, both the number of rough sleepers and the rate of rough sleeping in the population decreased.
“Despite this, the overall level of homelessness rose over the same period.
“This was driven by increases in the numbers of people living in supported accommodation and in severely crowded houses—conditions which do not meet the agreement’s definition of safe and sustainable housing.
Brumby said homelessness among Indigenous Australians remained many times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians, although, he said, there had been improvement in some locations and within certain types of homelessness, such as Indigenous rough sleeping.
Homelessness NSW CEO, Gary Moore said the systems were still failing in relation to people becoming homeless.
“We are seeing some constructive results in tackling chronic adult homelessness through new approaches that place people in housing first with relevant support services,” he said.
“However, we are failing to turn the tap off when it comes to new people becoming homeless.”
View the full report.