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The current crisis of homelessness in Sydney, Australia and some important facts to remember:

 

1.    A person is legally considered homeless in Australia if they:

  • Do not have safe, secure, adequate housing, or if the only housing they have access to damages their health; and/or
  • Are in circumstances which threaten or adversely affect the adequacy, safety, security or affordability of their home; and/or
  • Have no security of tenure - that is, they have no legal right to continued occupation of their home

 

2.   In Australia, the population of those currently experiencing homelessness has reached over 100,000 with an estimated 27,000 living in NSW and as many as 18,000 in the greater Sydney Region.

 

3.    A recent street count in the Woolloomooloo district yielded over 800 combination rough sleepers and temporary housing tenants - the highest rate of all inner city suburbs.

 

4.    According to the recent census data, there are over 44,000 young homeless people, meaning that about 43% of the Australian homeless population are babies, children and youth under the age of 25.

 

5.    A common form of youth homelessness in Australia is "couch surfing", whereby a homeless person relies on the support of friends to sleep on their couch or floor. Relationship breakdown and family conflict are often cited as common instigators of youth homelessness.

 

6.    While home is often viewed as a site of care, safety and nurturing, for many who become homeless, home is the first site in which victimisation occurs and often remains a conflicted and dangerous place through their life course.

 

7.    Some of the current homeless population in Australia were previously mentally institutionalised. Mass deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill began in Australia during the 1980s, whereby people with mental illness live in the general community under the policy of community release.

 

8.    Long term homelessness is closely related to a lack of "belonging". Community connectedness and a sense of attachment are important aspects of community life that can help to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community are able to exit homelessness.

 

9.    Homeless people are often un-accounted in national crime surveys which then inform public policy decisions, funding allocation and essential emergency aid resources.

 

*All information sourced from the current Australian census reporting, "Rough Living: Surviving Voilence & Homelessness" authored by Dr. Catherine Robinson, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The University of Technology, Sydney; "Down and Out in Sydney" authored by Tracey Hodder, Maree Teesson and Neil Buhrich; "The Road Home" The Australian Government White Paper on Homelessness and additional HopeStreet community resource partners.