Where to begin.
We’ll never get the big picture of how widespread it is, either in cities or across regional Australia, because there is no way of quantifying the number of people who are couch surfing, sleeping rough in a car or living on the street.
So what do we know?
The stories we hear tell us that some people can be just one event away from finding themselves homeless. It could happen in an instant. Others may be experiencing a number of complex issues that have been building up over time.
Relationship breakdowns, having no support system, poverty and financial crisis, domestic and family violence, mental health, the chronic shortage of affordable housing, and more.
At BaptistCare HopeStreet we see it all. People sleeping in their cars. People passing away within reach of our front door or surrounding streets and alleys.
They often run - from their families and friends and their support systems - straight into drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviours, which leads them into the path of the police, where their problems escalate significantly.
We see that homelessness changes a person’s entire wellbeing. There is isolation and extreme social exclusion. There is a higher risk of early death, particularly in Winter, and a strong likelihood of being exposed to violence.
Inequality underpins your every move, with nutritional food, health services and employment rarely accessible. Survival is instinctive, yes, but it also relies on your capacity to protect yourself and your “patch”, night after night.