Homelessness in NSW up by 37% since 2011

Alarming new statistics on homelessness, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, reveal a sharp increase in homelessness in NSW in recent years, with a particularly worrying rise in the number of older women experiencing homelessness.

PIAC’s Senior Policy Officer for Homelessness, Dr Louis Schetzer said that the figures, from the 2016 census, highlight a deep and persistent failure in Federal and State Government policy to address housing affordability and homelessness.

‘While there have been some reductions in the number of rough sleepers in the inner city, it is important to remember that rough sleepers only account for 6.9% of the total number of people experiencing homelessness in NSW,’ said Dr Schetzer.

‘The bigger picture is far bleaker. On census night in 2016 more than 15 000 women in NSW indicated that they were homeless – an increase of 31.6% from 2011.

‘Even worse, the number of homeless women over 55 increased by 47.7% since 2011.

‘While recent initiatives to reduce rough sleeping in inner Sydney are welcome, the increases in people in supported accommodation, temporary lodgings, severely overcrowded dwellings and staying temporarily with other households indicates a desperate need for government policies to address all elements of homelessness.

‘This is especially true for homeless women,’ said Dr Schetzer.

‘The crisis in housing affordability in NSW and particularly in Sydney requires urgent Government intervention. We desperately need a whole of government approach to deliver an additional 100,000 affordable homes for low income households.’

Housing and homelessness facts

  • In NSW, 60,000 people are on the social housing waiting list; with a further 140,000 people eligible to be on the waiting list but not registered.
  • The most recent figures indicate a shortfall of 270,000 affordable homes for low income households, with up to a 100,000 of that shortfall in NSW alone.
  • The average number of years to save for a home deposit in Sydney has increased from 5 years to 8 years in the past decade.
  • More than 50% of low income households experience rental stress and more than 25% of the overall community experience mortgage stress.
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