Every night 116,000 Australians are homeless, lacking safe, secure or affordable housing. This includes rough sleepers, people staying in temporary accommodation, and those sharing with others in severely crowded dwellings. Homelessness has profound effects on various social groups including struggling families, young people, women escaping domestic violence, older women, Indigenous Australians, and people with substance abuse and mental health problems. Australia’s homeless problem is growing, in spite of 300,000 Australians already receiving help from specialist homelessness services each year. Most rough sleepers were temporarily housed by governments during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic but are now back on the streets fending for themselves.
What can governments do to permanently deal with the homeless epidemic? How could more emergency housing, supported accommodation, private rental housing, and long-term affordable and social housing better meet demand for essential shelter? There is a concerning property boom in Australia – what about the overlooked plight of the homeless?