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How close to home is homelessness?

The people who line the streets of Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding areas highlight the complex situation that is homelessness for most Melbournians. People living in their cars, jumping from one friend’s house to another or seeking temporary accommodation in shelters are often struggling behind the scenes The common misconception surrounding the issue of homelessness is therefore the sheer size of the problem. According to Homelessness Australia, there are currently an estimated 22,773 people experiencing homelessness presently in Victoria. Australia wide, this figure is estimated to be 105,237. Of these people, only 5% are sleeping rough on our streets. Others seek shelter in accommodation for the homeless, overcrowded dwellings, and seeking refuge in other households.

Who are they?

As a population, there are slightly more men than women who are experiencing homelessness. Men are predominately found to be sleeping on the streets, whereas women are more prone reside in specialist homelessness services. There are an overwhelming amount of children who are experiencing homelessness Australia wide, with 17,845 children under 10 without permanent accommodation, according to Homelessness Australia. These approximate figures by homelessness Australia reflect the causes as to why people experience homelessness in the first place.

Why are people homeless?

A slight alteration in a person’s current situation can have devastating effects. In a time of fast paced change, anyone is susceptible to homelessness. Small changes in bills, health and home settings lead to people struggling to hold secure accommodation. These can include:

  • Domestic and family violence

  • Financial issues

  • Unexpected illness

  • Housing affordability and tenure

  • LGBTIQ young people

  • Mental illness

  • Substance misuse

  • Isolation

Of these causes, there are the most common factors that cause people to experience homelessness. For women and children, the leading cause of homelessness is domestic and family violence. Women are often forced to leave their family home, often with little possessions, often resulting in limitations for the next steps to take. More often than not, these different causes can often be interlinked. Financial issues are the second most common cause of homelessness, with rises in living expenses and difficulties in paying bills can often cause a range of problems if something unexpected occurs. Further, the growing problem in relation to public housing can make finding affordable accommodation even tougher. According to Vincent Care, there are approximately Phone: 0408897707 35,000 people on the waiting list for public housing. As the price of housing has increased, people with lower incomes are forced to move further out, and may no longer be able to afford their own house as easily as they would’ve last decade. Pressure on public housing is therefore growing, however development on infrastructure is a slow process, leaving more people in the dark about finding affordable living conditions.

What can you do?

There are a range of services that provide support for homelessness generally and for specific needs of an individual experiencing homelessness. Some of these include:

Street smart Australia Fundraise in order to support grassroots projects that deal with homelessness

Homelessness Australia National peak body for homelessness in Australia. Advocates for the homelessness sector.

St Vincent de Paul / Vinnies

Committed to speaking out through advocacy against the causes of poverty and inequality.

Supporting these organisations can be through the form of donations, volunteering and fundraising. You can get involved and take action in battling the issue of homelessness. For more hands on interactions, join us for our upcoming bagging up or distribution days.

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