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The Haymarket Foundation is one of a number of NSW Homelessness Services who have welcomed the second series of Filthy Rich and Homeless and its personal insights into the increasing levels of homelessness in Sydney. In a joint release, Haymarket Foundation CEO Peter Valpiani joined Homelessness NSW and a number of other agencies featured in Series 2 in calling for more affordable housing.
‘Between 2011 and 2016 the number of people experiencing homelessness in NSW increased by 37%, while in Sydney it increased by 48%’, said Ms Katherine McKernan CEO of Homelessness NSW. ‘This is far higher than the national increase of 14%’.
This increase is due to a lack of affordable housing – there are 60,000 applicants on the social housing waiting list in NSW and less than 1% of private rentals are affordable for people on low incomes across Greater Sydney. ‘The program highlights the impact that a lack of affordable housing is having on some of the most vulnerable people in our community,’ said Jack de Groot, CEO of St Vincent de Paul NSW. ‘Women and children escaping domestic and family violence should not have to put their safety at risk, or live in temporary arrangements, simply because the market has locked them out of safe housing options.’
The program also illustrates the need for alternatives for people who have experienced trauma and may be rough sleeping or living in sub-standard boarding houses. ‘Many of our clients require affordable housing and sometimes life-long support for their health and other issues’ said Peter Valpiani, CEO of the Haymarket Foundation. ‘Internationally a supportive housing approach that provides wrap around services for people in housing is proven to help keep vulnerable people housed and improve their health. We need this to become part of the homelessness service system here in Australia’
In NSW the rate of homelessness for young people has increased by 45% over five years, compared to a 15% increase nationally. Again, the program highlights what this means for individual young people.
‘Youth homelessness is a significant issue in Australia – our recent survey of over 20,000 young people found that one in six had experienced homelessness’ said James Toomey, CEO of Mission Australia ‘We urgently need policies and resources that focus on preventing youth homelessness including mental health supports and improved planning and options for young people leaving out of home care.’
The program also highlights the commitment and support provided by homelessness services in a context of high demand. 74,000 clients were supported by homelessness services in NSW 2016/17, yet funding is only provided to support 58,000 clients.
‘Youth and other homelessness services work hard every day to ensure that clients receive the highest quality support’ said Stephanie Oatley, CEO of Platform Youth, ‘but without investment in affordable housing and specialist health and youth services it is getting harder and harder to support people to leave homelessness and get on with their lives.’
Homelessness organisations in NSW have joined the Everybody’s Home campaign that calls for Federal and State Governments to make the necessary investment to end homelessness. This includes policy change and investment to provide 500,000 affordable rentals across Australia until 2036 and a resourced national strategy with targets to end homelessness.
‘It is of great concern that increasing numbers of women and men face homelessness in a country as wealthy as Australia. It is vitally important to raise awareness, to put in place programs to assist people who face homelessness and also address the issues that lead to homelessness. We need harder thinking on the issue, and greater compassion for all people.” said Keith Hamilton, CEO Parramatta Mission.