High level legal need amongst homeless

New research released from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW shows that homeless people are at high risk of legal problems. The research paper, Home is where the heart of legal need is, showed a level of legal need amongst homeless people almost double that of the rest of the population.

The research shows that over 85 per cent of homeless people have experienced at least one legal problem over a one-year period, compared to 49 per cent of people living in non-disadvantaged housing.

Over 50 per cent of homeless people experienced three or more legal problems over the same period (compared to only 16 per cent of the rest of the population).

The most commonly reported legal problems by homeless people include crime, consumer issues, family problems, housing and discrimination. In each of these groups, homeless people were significantly more likely to experience the legal problems than other members of the community.

According to HPLS Senior Solicitor Sam Sowerwine, the research provides strong evidence of the legal need that HPLS solicitors witness everyday.

“Our clients are amongst the most disadvantaged people in Australia. Their disadvantage is compounded by a multitude of complex legal problems, for which they find it extremely difficult to find legal services that can assist them.”

The research states that the multiple legal needs of homeless people suggests they require client-focused services, involving an integrated response from legal and broader human services.

The report provides strong endorsement of the model of service delivery provided by PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service, where legal advice clinics are located at homeless services across metropolitan Sydney.

To access a copy of the Law and Justice Foundation’s Research Bulletin: Home is where the heart of legal need is, click here.

Photo: flickr wottheduk

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