Public forum today: Sector leaders call for urgent measures to end homelessness post COVID-19

Ahead of a lunchtime Zoom forum today, leaders in Sydney’s homelessness sector are calling for urgent action to end homelessness in the wake of the COVID19 crisis. This would include a plan to house rough sleepers long term including greater investment in new social housing and the upgrading of existing stock, which could create over 22,000 jobs while reducing inequality and disadvantage.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 health crisis, more than 2200 people, who were housed in hotels and temporary accommodation in an ambitious response to rough sleeping, face an uncertain future.

In addition, modelling shows that up to 16,000 people could become homeless as a result of rising unemployment.This would cost the economy between $218 million and $445 million each year in lost income and taxation as well as additional health and social services.

The forum at 1pm today will bring together experts, specialist homelessness services and consumer representatives to discuss the issues facing people experiencing homelessness as the COVID19 restrictions ease.

The event will feature a panel discussion with Katherine McKernan (CEO, Homelessness NSW), consumer representative Damo (PIAC’s StreetCare committee), Grace Rullis (Manager Homelessness Services, Haymarket Centre) and Sharlene McKenzie (Manager, Aboriginal Services, 3Bridges Community).

The discussion will be moderated by Roslyn Cook (PIAC’s Managing Solicitor, Homeless Persons’ Legal Service) and will be followed by a Q&A.

Katherine McKernan, CEO, Homelessness NSW:

‘The NSW Government has done a great job assisting people experiencing homelessness into hotels and it has really shown that NGO services and the government working together can act quickly to provide safe and good quality accommodation.’

‘The COVID crisis presents a real opportunity to end the cycle of homelessness for many vulnerable people whilst at the same time injecting much needed economic activity into the construction and allied industries. We need to act quickly and develop a plan to achieve this.’

Roslyn Cook, Managing Solicitor of PIAC Homeless Persons’ Legal Service:

‘We are already seeing the tremendous difference that accommodation and support services make to the lives of our clients. Providing them with no option other than returning to the street is harsh and unfair, and more expensive for the community over the long term.’

Grace Rullis, Manager of Homelessness Programs and Clinical Lead, Haymarket Foundation:

‘There have been a number of silver linings for people experiencing homelessness during this public health crisis. One of them is the move towards a ‘Housing First’ approach. What we need now is systemic change. There is no going back.’

This special forum will take place today (Friday 29 May 2020) at 1pm and is open to the general public. More information on PIAC’s website, or register here.



Gemma Pearce, PIAC Media and Communications Manager: 0478 739 280.

Katherine McKernan, CEO, Homelessness NSW: 0425 288 446

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