The challenges of Sydney’s homelessness crisis

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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% to 592 people – 94% of available bed capacity.
August 2019
People Sleeping Rough: 254
Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds: 592
August 2018
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.
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.  “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.”
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.  “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 contributions
  • $100,000 to the St Vincent de Paul Society to establish a Sydney office to coordinate the project
  • $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.
  • 835 new affordable housing dwellings since 2004
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