Census shows sharp rise in homelessness

The rate of homelessness has risen by 15,000 people over five years, despite public funding of $1.1 billion as part of a Federal Government promise to slash homelessness, Fairfax Media reports.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released this week showed that there were 105,237 homeless people on census night last year, with 60 per cent of those under the age of 35.

Homelessness rose by 20 per cent or more in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT.

‘The increase in homelessness reinforces the importance of services such as the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS) and StreetCare in the delivery of vital legal services to homeless people,’ said HPLS senior policy officer, Lou Schetzer.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) also expressed alarm at the new census data and has called for a concerted national effort to address the worsening problem.

‘Clearly we are not doing enough to deal with homelessness.

‘The latest figures are a wake-up call that one of the principal ways to deal with homelessness is to take measures to tackle the nations’ affordable housing crisis, which is causing so much strain and forcing people into poverty,’ said ACOSS chief executive, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

‘It’s also a sign of the extent of strain being experienced by community support services, especially those supporting women escaping violence; young people, including those leaving care; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. About three quarters of the increase in the overall homelessness estimate to 2011 was accounted for by people who were born overseas,’ Dr Goldie said.

Read The Age report

Read the ACOSS media release

Photo: Flickr

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