Homelessness in NSW reaches ‘crisis point’
26 August 2019 at 4:29 pm
Crisis accommodation for people experiencing homelessness in Sydney has almost hit capacity, new data shows, prompting calls for an urgent injection of social housing across the state.
A recent City of Sydney street count found while the number of people sleeping rough fell from 278 in August last year to 254, the use of temporary accommodation rose by 16.8 per cent.
With 592 beds being used, it means there are less than 40 beds currently available, a figure which concerns Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
She said the increase in temporary bed use showed outreach services were working, but warned the figure would remain high unless more stable, long-term affordable and social housing was provided.
“These figures tell us that people experiencing homelessness are seeking help, and know where to find the services that can offer them a bed or a free meal for the night, but these are temporary solutions to a systemic crisis,” Moore said.
“To break the cycle of homelessness we need the [New South Wales] and federal governments to fund more social and affordable housing in the inner city.
“We cannot allow Sydney to become an enclave for the rich. We need a diverse range of housing to accommodate our diverse community.”
In February, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to halve the number of people sleeping rough across the state by 2025.
Homelessness groups said an urgent injection of social and affordable housing was the best way to achieve this, warning that NSW needed an additional 140,000 social housing properties.
The Good Growth Alliance, a coalition of peak industry bodies and NGO leaders, has called for the delivery of 5,000 social housing properties a year over the next decade.
State member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said further action from local and state governments could help turn the tide on homelessness.
“Sadly, it is no secret that homelessness has reached a crisis point in NSW,” Greenwich said.
“The latest street count results prove once again that people are seeking help, but that the system is at capacity – we need to provide safe and affordable homes in order to truly stop the cycle of homelessness in our state.”
The NSW government has invested around $1 billion in funding for homelessness services over the past four years.
NSW Communities Minister Gareth Ward – who took part in the recent count – said the figures showed the state government’s investment in assertive outreach programs was making an impact.
“Since 2017, our assertive outreach teams have helped house more than 450 people previously sleeping rough on inner city streets,” Ward said.
“Our staff are compassionate, skilled professionals and to see a drop in the number of people sleeping rough compared to last year is encouraging, but of course there is still more work to be done.”