No room at inn – NSW homelessness services unable to meet demand

Homelessness NSW

Urgent action is required to address the demand for homelessness services – data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows in 2018/19 over 73,500 clients were supported by homelessness services in New South Wales.

This is an increase of 1,500 clients in 12 months and is 27% more clients than homelessness services are funded to support.

NSW homelessness services have the highest level of unmet need in Australia. More clients did not receive accommodation who needed it (21,552) than those clients who were provided with accommodation (18,000).

Homelessness services are delivering support to clients in an environment of funding uncertainty with the Minister for Family, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, in October confirming a limited one year extension of contracts post June 2020. Despite the existing demands on homeless services additional service requirements are being imposed with no additional funding.

“Once again the AIHW data confirms the unsustainable demand for homelessness services in NSW following the reforms undertaken in 2014”. said Katherine McKernan, CEO of Homelessness NSW.

Even if supported by homelessness services clients are more likely to remain homeless than find long term housing with over 60% of clients remaining homeless – either rough sleeping (17%), couch surfing (38%) or being stuck in crisis accommodation (46%).

“Rather than working with the government to fix the gaps in the service system and ensure an adequate supply of housing and support that would help end homelessness in NSW, we are spending our time advocating to maintain the inadequate funding services currently receive.’

‘We urgently need investment in additional social housing in NSW. We believe that the NSW Government needs to commit to at least 5,000 additional social housing properties per year for the next 10 years to even meet current demand.

Action is urgently required to address domestic and family violence in NSW. The AIHW data shows a continued increase in the number of clients seeking assistance due to domestic and family violence with almost 28,000 people seeking assistance in 2018/19.

‘Domestic Violence NSW is concerned that the Premier’s Priority to reduce rough sleeping – while admirable – misses the real need. The AIHW data highlights that the majority of SHS clients – 38% – are women and children escaping domestic and family violence.’ said Joanne Yates, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW.

‘Ensuring a fully resourced and funded specialist domestic and family violence sector is vital to ensuring the safety of those escaping domestic and family violence. Services need additional funding to meet the current gaps and shouldn’t have to be worried about keeping staff and funding with demand this high’.

NSW also saw an increase in young people accessing homelessness services, with approximately 19,000 young people between the ages 15-24 who presented alone. The Premier’s priority on youth homelessness meant that approximately 2,000 were assisted to access stable support and housing.

“Despite reducing youth homelessness being one of the Premier’s priorities, these figures show that young people are increasingly requiring support from homelessness services. Urgent investment is required to prevent youth homelessness and to provide affordable housing options for young people”. Yfoundations’ CEO Pam Barker said.

Domestic Violence NSW, Homelessness NSW and Yfoundations are calling for funding certainty for homelessness services and resources to meet the current demand alongside investment in social housing.

‘In a state like NSW that is going so well economically and delivering a massive budget surplus we should not be turning away people from homeless services’.

Quick Facts

In 2018/19 approximately:

• 73,500 clients were supported by homelessness services (38% increase since NSW Govt reforms)

• Approx 28,000 clients were escaping domestic and family violence (38% of all clients)

• Approx 19,000 clients were unaccompanied young people aged 15 – 24 (26% of all clients)

• Approx 22,000 clients were Aboriginal (30% of all clients)

• 21,552 clients did not receive crisis or other accommodation despite requesting it whilst 18,000 were provided with crisis or other accommodation

• 61% of clients who were homeless prior to accessing a service had no long term accommodation or housing at the end of support

• Homelessness services are funded to support around 58,000 clients, yet in 2018/19 provided a service to over 73,500 clients, supporting 27% more clients than they are funded for.

• 60,000 people are on the NSW social housing waiting list and according to the Anglicare 2019 Rental Snapshot less than 1% of private rentals are affordable for people on low incomes in NSW

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