The City of Sydney’s most recent street count has revealed that homelessness has risen and crisis shelters are at capacity.
While the number of those sleeping rough fell by 24 people compared to the count in August last year, occupation of temporary or crisis accommodation rose by 16.8 per cent to 592 people – 94 per cent of available bed capacity.
People Sleeping Rough: 254
Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds: 592
People Sleeping Rough: 278
Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds: 495
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the high level of temporary bed occupancy showed outreach services run by the NSW Government, City of Sydney and non-government organisations were working, but that those numbers would remain high without the provision of more stable, long-term affordable and social housing.
“These figures tell us that people experiencing homelessness are seeking help, and know where to find the services that can offer them a bed or a free meal for the night, but these are temporary solutions to a systemic crisis,” the Lord Mayor said.
“254 people sleeping on our streets is 254 too many. In a prosperous city like Sydney, this is an unacceptable situation demanding decisive and compassionate action.
“To break the cycle of homelessness we need the NSW and Federal governments to fund provide more social and affordable housing in the inner city.
“We cannot allow Sydney to become an enclave for the rich. We need a diverse range of housing to accommodate our diverse community.”
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward participated in the count and said the figures showed the NSW Government’s assertive outreach programs are making a real impact.
“Since 2017, our assertive outreach teams have helped house more than 450 people previously sleeping rough on inner city streets,” Mr Ward said.
“Our staff are compassionate, skilled professionals and to see a drop in the number of people sleeping rough compared to last year is encouraging, but of course there is still more work to be done.”
“The reality is that across the state, homelessness is an issue. That’s why we recently announced the expansion of assertive outreach to Tweed Heads and Newcastle and the extension of the street count to regional areas.”
“We’re delighted to partner with the City of Sydney in tackling this issue and we will continue to work with other local councils and non-government organisations to build on the strong foundations we have set.”
Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich welcomed the joint action between local and state government on homelessness.
“Sadly, it is no secret that homelessness has reached a crisis point in NSW,” the Member for Sydney said.
“The latest street count results prove once again that people are seeking help, but that the system is at capacity – we need to provide safe and affordable homes in order to truly stop the cycle of homelessness in our state.”
The City of Sydney’s street count was conducted in the early hours of Tuesday, 6 August. A total of 195 volunteers made up of residents, sector workers, students, local businesses 15 advisers who have lived experience of homelessness and 30 City staff members took part in the count from 1am to 3am.
In February, the City signed an agreement with the NSW Government, the Institute of Global Homelessness, St Vincent de Paul, St Vincent’s Health, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Neami National
and Yfoundations to:
- reduce rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area by 25 per cent by 2020
- reduce rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area and NSW by 50 per cent by 2025
- work towards zero rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area and NSW
The City has contributed $100,000 to the St Vincent de Paul Society to establish a Sydney office to coordinate the project. The local, independent organisation is bringing together organisations and services working to reduce homelessness. This will allow for greater information sharing and enable a more coordinated response to reduce the number of people sleeping rough and to prevent people entering in to homelessness.
The City has invested $6.6 million over three years to help reduce homelessness in the city. This includes a $3.5 million contribution to the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services over three years to fund specialist homelessness services.
The City of Sydney has helped build 835 new affordable housing dwellings since 2004, by collecting levies from developers and selling our land to affordable housing providers at discount rates.