Homelessness on the rise in the Inner West
Wednesday, 13 March 2019
The annual Inner West Street Count has found that homelessness continues to be of concern in Sydney’s Inner West.
This year’s count was conducted on Monday, 18 February in a range of homelessness ‘hot spots’.
Staff and volunteers from the partner organisations* walked the streets observing and recording the numbers and locations of people sleeping rough.
They found 30 people were rough-sleeping in a range of locations including parks, footpaths, in vehicles, tents, in shopfronts and behind offices.
Vulnerable people living without any accommodation at all represent perhaps the most visible form of homelessness.
However, this is only a small glimpse of homelessness in the Inner West.
Less visible is the number of people either couch surfing or in overcrowded, unstable or inadequate accommodation.
On the night of the Street Count, another 66 people were staying in temporary and crisis accommodation in the Inner West.
The Inner West has a significant number of boarding houses - the latest estimate is 329 – and has the second largest number of registered boarding houses in the Greater Sydney Area.
A survey by the Boarding House Team at Council’s partner organisation Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC) shows that on the night of the Street Count, 275 people were staying in seven local boarding houses.
These boarding houses have a very low vacancy rate of six per cent, with the vast majority of vacancies being for rooms in excess of $230 a week – an astronomical amount for a person on New Start payments.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics regards boarding house residents as being homeless due to their lack of secure tenure, limited amenities and limitations on areas for social relations.
Last year, Inner West Council gave NNC $25,000 to help expand their work preventing homelessness amongst boarding house residents, and $30,000 to Milk Crate Theatre to provide drama workshops for rough sleepers at The Exodus Foundation.
Inner West Council has been coordinating the Homelessness Street Counts annually since 2016. That year, 23 people were recorded.
*The Street Count is conducted by eight partner organisations: Inner West Council, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Exodus Foundation, Missionbeat, Wesley Mission, Youth Off the Streets, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, and NSW Police.
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