New data shows fewer people sleeping rough as City prepares $10 million investment

Office of the Lord Mayor, City of Sydney

The City of Sydney’s latest street count shows a reduction in people sleeping rough, but temporary and crisis accommodation remain at near capacity.

The results, which show continued action is needed, come as the City prepares its new long-term strategic plan, Sustainable Sydney 2050. The plan will have equity and affordability as central themes and includes another $10 million investment in the City’s Affordable and Diverse Housing Fund.

People Sleeping Rough

Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds

February 2019

373

94% capacity

February 2020

334

91% capacity

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the reduction of rough sleeping is encouraging but the numbers in crisis accommodation are still a very serious concern.

“State and Federal governments hold the levers for social and affordable housing, but since 2007, the City has taken every opportunity to tackle affordability. We have contributed over $344 million in value through development contributions, discounting property sales, and managing an Affordable and Diverse Housing Fund for the most vulnerable,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve supported the delivery of 896 new affordable homes, with an additional 940 in the pipeline.”

The End Street Sleeping Collaboration – which brings together the City, State Government and homelessness charities – set a target in 2019 to reduce rough sleeping in the city by 25 percent this street count. These results demonstrate significant progress, with a 23 percent reduction.

“The collaboration between all tiers of government and homelessness services is having some success, but we must redouble our efforts to ensure our city community remains diverse, and that people have access to stable and affordable housing ” the Lord Mayor said.

Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said that while the statistical reduction of rough sleepers is welcomed, the lived-experiences of those who are still homeless are harrowing.

“People who are homeless due to domestic violence, poor health or mental health, and poverty deserve better and we need urgent investment in more supported and stable accommodation for people in need,” the Member for Sydney said.

The Lord Mayor said that creating an equitable, affordable and inclusive city would be central to the City’s new long-term strategic plan, Sustainable Sydney 2050.

“At the next meeting of Council we will consider a range of initiatives to increase affordable housing supply, including another $10 million investment in our Affordable and Diverse Housing Fund,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The fund allows Council to provide catalyst funding to strategic projects. It has supported the delivery of 42 affordable homes that are rented to people on low incomes, with a further 76 in the pipeline. Just last week Council voted to grant $1 million from the fund for the redevelopment of the Wesley Edward Eagar Centre in Bourke Street Surry Hills, and HammondCare Darlinghurst an inspiring facility for older people experiencing homelessness, particularly women was opened recently.

“I was also proud to pour the concrete with Minister Gareth Ward on a new SCGH affordable housing project at 11 Gibbons Street in Redfern, which was enabled when we sold our former depot site at a discounted rate.”

Council will also be voting to provide a $1 million grant to UTS for the establishment of Australia’s first Indigenous Residential College, which will provide affordable spaces for 250 students, as well as a long-term lease to the Property Industry Foundation for a new facility that will increase the supply of affordable housing and provide support services for vulnerable young people.

The Lord Mayor again called on State and Federal governments to invest in social housing to provide people with a pathway out of homelessness.

“Sydney’s housing affordability crisis is especially acute in the inner city, and we urgently need the State and Federal governments to invest in more social and affordable housing in the inner city, and commit to the services that help people break the cycle of homelessness,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The proposed redevelopment of the Waterloo Estate is a critical opportunity. The City has developed a plan that could provide up 3,700 homes for people on low incomes in the inner city, but we need the support of the State and Federal governments to make it a reality,” the Lord Mayor said.

The street count is conducted twice a year to collect accurate and up-to-date information about the number of people sleeping rough in the local area. People occupying beds in temporary shelters and homelessness hostels are also counted. The latest street count was conducted in the early hours of Tuesday 18 February.

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