Fewer people are sleeping rough in inner city Sydney this summer, according to the City of Sydney’s latest street count.
The count took place during the early hours on Tuesday 23 February, with 118 City of Sydney staff and volunteers counting 272 people sleeping on the streets compared to 334 in February last year before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Crisis and temporary accommodation beds were at 82 per cent occupancy, 9 per cent lower than at the same time last year.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said given nearly all rough sleepers were provided accommodation through the height of the pandemic, the year-on-year drop was encouraging but shows more support is needed to get people into permanent housing.
“Our twice-yearly street counts provide an important snapshot of the number of people sleeping rough, which helps us measure the effectiveness of strategies aimed at reducing homelessness,” the Lord Mayor said.
“I commend the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services who implemented the Together Home project for $65 million, by securing private rentals and funding with the supports people need to stay in housing. This has really helped.
“We saw the NSW Government invest a huge amount in temporary accommodation last year to effectively get almost every person sleeping rough into some sort of housing at the height of the pandemic – so we know it can be done.
“To make the sort of impact we saw through the pandemic permanent, Sydney needs more appropriate, long-term social housing and diverse accommodation options, particularly for non- residents, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with complex care needs such as brain injuries and trauma who have found themselves on the streets.”
While the NSW Government is responsible for supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and for the provision of social housing, the City of Sydney runs a homelessness unit – the first local government authority to do so in Australia.
Last year the City committed more than $2 million in funding to help reduce homelessness and its impacts, plus additional grants.
The City also funds many social programs that help vulnerable community members and has provided reusable masks to people sleeping rough throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The City is doing everything it can to generate more affordable housing in our local area. Initiatives include planning and development agreements, land rezoning and transfers, affordable housing levies and a dedicated fund to support the development of permanent affordable and diverse housing,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We’re also working hard to maximise the amount of social and affordable housing in the State Government’s redevelopment of the Waterloo housing estate.
“We have proposed the Government include at least 30 per cent social housing and 20 per cent affordable housing in Waterloo South. We have also recommended more housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with their long connections to this area.
“This would go some way to meeting the critical need for social and affordable housing in the area.”
The City of Sydney conducts two street counts each year – one in summer and another in winter. The City was unable to carry out the August 2020 count in its regular format due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The February count was conducted following health guidelines to keep everyone safe.
See results of previous street counts.