Homelessness rising, numbers of rough sleepers soaring

·2-min read
Tracey Nearmy/AAP PHOTOS

The number of Australians needing emergency accommodation or living on the streets and in cars is surging, with governments being urged to act to help cut homelessness rates.

A Safe Place to Call Home, Mission Australia's Homelessness and Stable Housing Impact Report 2023, released on Tuesday, found a 26 per cent increase in demand for services over the past three years.

Soaring rents, a shortage of affordable housing and a slowing construction sector have resulted in demand for help to find somewhere to live jump to levels never seen before.

The report used information from 63 of the charity's homelessness and housing support services.

Mission Australia's chief executive Sharon Callister said there had been a 50 per cent jump in people seeking help after becoming homeless, instead of when they were at risk.

The charity is calling on state and federal governments to act.

"Without a significant boost of social and affordable housing across the country, homelessness cannot be eradicated," Ms Callister said.

"Mission Australia is calling on governments for greater investment to build the one million new social and affordable homes that will be needed over the next 20 years to ensure that everyone who seeks help is connected to a safe place to call home."

Homelessness NSW CEO Trina Jones said solutions to the crisis were easy to implement and relatively affordable, calling on the state government to increase the amount of social housing.

"The state government must act by urgently building more social housing and better supporting homelessness services which are under pressure with soaring demand," she said.

"Ensuring that everyone has a safe place to call home should be among the first priorities of any government."

There was an 103 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping rough, in tents or in improvised homes from 2020 to 2022.

Ms Callister said frontline staff were reporting an "influx" of requests, with 300 turned away every day.

"They're telling us the housing situation is the worst they've ever seen it," she said.

"Australia needs to be doing so much more to be on the front foot to prevent and end homelessness in our country."

The report highlighted the growing trend of rough sleeping as one of the biggest concerns, with more than 20 per cent of those who accessed Mission Australia's services having spent more than a year without a stable home.

The highest number of people impacted by homelessness are women, at 57 per cent, while 27 per cent are Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander.

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