Homelessness is a significant and growing issue in the inner west community and takes many forms including sleeping rough, couch surfing and staying in unstable or overcrowded accommodation.

The drivers of homelessness include a shortage of stable and affordable housing, family violence, long-term unemployment, family breakdown, mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.

Rough sleeping

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, involving people sleeping with little or no shelter at all. Every night in the inner west there are significant numbers of people who resort to sleeping in car parks, shopfronts, parks, trains, tents or in vehicles. These people are some of the most vulnerable in our community.

In 2020 the inner west street count recorded 25 people sleeping rough in the Inner West Council area. The 2020 state-wide street count data shows that the inner west has relatively high numbers of rough sleepers, with only 10 councils in NSW (out of the 65 councils where counting was conducted) having higher numbers of people sleeping rough.

Council's homelessness policy

Inner West Council's Homelessness Policy (PDF 294.7KB) recognises the vulnerability of rough sleepers and the significant numbers of people sleeping in our local parks and streets.

Council is committed to reducing the number of people in this situation by helping to connect them with homelessness services. How are we doing that?

Multi-agency outreach

Council has developed strong partnerships with a range of homelessness services and state government agencies to form multi-agency outreach teams. These teams patrol the streets and parks of the inner west early in the morning, mostly around Ashfield and Newtown.

This collaboration between Inner West Council, state government and homeless services has permanently housed 27 people over the period from January 2019 until June 2020, including many long- term rough sleepers. The teams include staff from Council, Department of Communities and Justice (Housing), Sydney Local Health District, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Missionbeat, Wesley Mission, Youth Off The Streets, NEAMI Way to Home and The Exodus Foundation. Additional outreach patrols have been conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting more people to access the additional hotel beds provided as part of the state government's COVID-19 response.

Watch this great multi-agency open discussion on some of the causes of homelessness and what is being done to help.

In their own words

All the policies, reports and data you read can’t ever hope to convey what it must feel like to find yourself without a home. Watch this short video to hear what people with lived experience of homelessness say about what it’s like to be in their shoes. Their stories are compelling.

How to help

Anyone who is concerned about the welfare of a person who is sleeping rough can contact Missionbeat on 1800 306 461.

Homelessness services

There are a number of services within the inner west that are dedicated to assisting people experiencing homelessness.

  • Exodus Foundation
    8752 4600
    180 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield NSW 2131
    Free breakfast and lunch daily, showers, social, medical, welfare and crisis support
  • Lifeline
    13 11 14
    24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention
  • Link2home
    1800 152 152
    24/7 referral to accommodation and services
  • Mental Health Line
    1800 011 511
    24/7 assistance with mental health issues
  • Missionbeat
    1800 306 461
    Outreach, welfare checks, transport to accommodation and services
  • NSW Domestic Violence Line
    1800 656 463
    24/7 referral service
  • Newtown Neighbourhood Centre
    (02) 9564 7333
    Boarding house services and homeless assistance
  • Wesley Homeless Services
    1300 259 789
    Accommodation support, case management services, early intervention and prevention programs
  • Youth off the Streets
    8217 4700
    Comprehensive youth (16-25yrs) homelessness service; youth housing

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Page last updated: 22 Sep 2020