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Redefining overcrowding in homelessness


29 July 2022 at 11:28 am
Danielle Kutchel
Overcrowding is more to do with state of mind than square footage, according to new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and Curtin University released ahead of Homelessness Week next week


Danielle Kutchel | 29 July 2022 at 11:28 am


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Redefining overcrowding in homelessness
29 July 2022 at 11:28 am

Overcrowding is more to do with state of mind than square footage, according to new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and Curtin University released ahead of Homelessness Week next week. 

Research released ahead of Homelessness Week is looking to redefine how we assess overcrowding in the homelessness space.

Researchers from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and Curtin University say we need to move beyond physical measures like the number of people in a dwelling and start assessing emotional or psychological responses to feelings of being too crowded.

“How overcrowding is defined and measured has important implications for governments in terms of funding requirements, for allocating families to public and community housing, and supporting the creation of the appropriate mix of housing stock given household structures,” the researchers noted in a statement marking the release of the report, entitled “How many in a crowd? Assessing overcrowding measures in Australian housing report”.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Dockery of Curtin University said the problem was that there is a very weak correlation between objective measures of density and peoples’ feelings of being too crowded.  

“Those measures aren’t very good at identifying who is at most risk of experiencing negative effects of overcrowding in Australian households,” he said. 

Through a series of interviews, the research explored the experiences of people living in overcrowded households and showed “substantial negative effects associated with overcrowding for many households, including lack of privacy; excessive noise; incidents of antisocial behaviour; child safety and wellbeing concerns; increased housework; food theft; and family and financial strain.”

“Significantly, family strain heightened by overcrowding can lead to irrevocable relationship breakdowns and family violence,” the statement said. 

The report, published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) in conjunction with Curtin University, highlights “substantial negative effects associated with overcrowding, including lack of privacy, excessive noise, incidents of antisocial behaviour, child safety and wellbeing concerns.”


Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on danielle@probonoaustralia.com.au or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.

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