Homelessness ‘getting worse’ in SE

Photo: SMH
Photo: SMH

Homelessness is still a growing concern in the region after the release of worrying statistics last week.

A report released by Ac.care found that almost 500 people in the South East received support services within a 12-month period to June 30.

Ac.care CEO Shane Maddocks believes living costs in regional SA are still having a major impact on many people.

“Whilst there is more opportunity for housing affordability in country regions it is still an issue for people on limited incomes,” Mr Maddocks said. 

Figures revealed that 386 people who sought homelessness and housing support were new clients.

Mr Maddocks pointed out that those who rely on social security income are left with very little for other expenses which include food, electricity, clothes and educational fees. 

“Strategies to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing must include increases to youth allowance and Newstart,” he said. “We do not want a society where parts of our community have a sense of hopelessness because things outside of their control prevent them from moving out of poverty.”

Ac.care is one of the leading support services in the region that aims to enhance the well-being of rural people through positive social change.

Of the applicants who requested support, 19 per cent were children (0-9), 18 per cent were aged between 18-24 and a further 18 per cent were adults aged 24 -34.

Uniting Communities manager of advocacy Mark Henley said homelessness continues to be a problem and is now getting worse.

“Housing affordability and availability are constant problems for single adults and families alike. Our services report that the situation seems to be getting worse both in terms the number of people becoming homeless and the difficulty people are experiencing in exiting from homelessness.”

Uniting Communities’ Mr Henley has seen the need for more affordable housing and extra funding for services to support people who have accommodation.

“Crisis accommodation can be hard to access, particularly in regional areas where there are fewer options available,” he said.

“Young people, particularly low income single young people have very limited housing options.”

In Ac.care’s report, 59 per cent of people did experience a housing crisis (recently evicted) and 20 per cent had inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions. 

The CEO Mr Maddocks said: “When people are doing it tough they need hope that they can escape poverty situations, have a safe affordable place to live and believe that their situation is temporary.”

Being Homelessness Week in Australia, Mr Henley feels initiatives like this are helping to raise awareness.

“It both helps to raise awareness of the issues and encourages governments, businesses and communities to respond,” he said.

“It also helps raise awareness of support option for people needing direct assistance.”

Ac.care spokesperson Anne Hinkly-Tyler also praised the campaign and labelled it as “valuable” in tackling issues surrounding homelessness. 

“It is also an opportunity for the community to show their care by donations...as well as a conversation about the need for affordable housing,” she said.