What does home mean to you?
A place to relax and recuperate after a long day? A place where you can feel safe and secure? Perhaps home to you means a place to connect with your family over homecooked meals. Or spend time with friends and pets?
Over the six lockdowns (and counting) we’ve had in Victoria, the idea of home has never been more important. While many of us struggled within the confines of our homes, how much tougher would that have been if you were facing homelessness or living in an unsafe or unstable housing environment?
For the 116,000 people across Australia experiencing homelessness on any given night, home is something else, something elusive.
Their meaning of ‘home’ for the night could be a night in crisis accommodation, overcrowded dwellings, or couchsurfing. For anyone experiencing homelessness, long-term housing is not just a place to sleep, but security, safety, stability, privacy.
This week is Homelessness Week, an initiative started to bring awareness to what it means to be homeless in Australia and educate communities on what they can do to help.
Long story short? Everybody needs a home.
What is homelessness?
Homelessness does not simply mean someone who doesn’t have a house to sleep in.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, homelessness encapsulates a wide range of circumstances including people who are experiencing unstable housing arrangements, housing arrangements that are inadequate (unsafe, overcrowded), or does not allow them to have control or access to space for social relations.
Homelessness is much more complex than people sleeping ‘rough.’ The hidden homeless include people who need to couchsurf, people sleeping in cars and rooming houses, or accessing other temporary accommodation.
In Victoria, there are almost 25,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
In the G21 region, this number is approximately 1,300 on any given night – some of the highest statistics in the state outside of Melbourne.
How can you help?
A lack of affordable and secure housing is the number one reason people seek support for homelessness in Australia. For women and children, escaping domestic and family violence is the top reason.
Did you know that for the over 1.5 million Australians living on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance, 0% of rentals are affordable to them?
We are currently experiencing a 433,400 shortfall of social housing dwellings across Australia – and this impacts every single electorate.
The solution, like the issue, is a nuanced one. A multi-faceted solution that looks at not only systemic policy changes but prevention and emergency support. Homelessness is a complex issue. There are many reasons a person can find themselves experiencing homelessness, meaning there is no one-solution-fits-all approach.
However, your donations help the Foundation to support the prevention, early intervention, and emergency support needed for those experiencing homelessness. Through the Survive & Thrive grants, your donations directly assist in creating long-term change for people experiencing homelessness.
For example, Bethany Community Support were granted $40,000 to build capacity within the Barwon region for workforces, tenants and real-estate agents to enable them to support women escaping family violence and others needing housing quickly and efficiently through their Skill2Build program. This program identifies that women and children experiencing domestic and family violence are at a higher risk of homelessness and presents an innovation solution.
Want to do more?