New data has revealed the extent of one state’s homelessness crisis as housing affordability continues to “plummet” across the nation.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed the number of people in NSW receiving assistance at specialist homelessness services.
Out of the state’s 128 local government areas, as many as 58 recorded a rise in people accessing services in 2023, according to Homelessness NSW who analysed the data.
Sydney LGAs, including the Inner West and Canterbury-Bankstown, recorded among the highest increases, with the effects also felt in the Illawarra and Central Coast.
Homelessness NSW chief executive Dom Rowe said the state’s housing crisis was putting pressure on frontline homelessness services, which were struggling to keep pace with demand.
“LGAs across metropolitan Sydney and also suburban and rural areas are seeing increased levels of homelessness,” she said.
“Plummeting housing affordability is affecting people right across the state.
“Right now, one out of every two people seeking help for homelessness in NSW do not receive it because underfunded services are full.”
Ms Rowe said families fleeing domestic violence were having to choose between sleeping rough or staying in a dangerous situation because they couldn’t get the help.
“It’s heartbreaking … NSW must increase funding for specialist homelessness services, as Queensland has just done with a 20 per cent boost,” she said.
“We must also urgently build more social and affordable homes.
“Right now just one in 20 homes are social housing but we need this to be at least one in 10 by 2050 to slash the 57,000-strong, decade-long waitlist.
“The NSW government is moving in the right direction on housing, but much more is needed to protect the women and children trapped in violent homes or sleeping rough.”
According to the data, 1496 people in the Inner west received specialist homelessness services in 2022-23, up 245 from the 2021-22.
Both the Bankstown and Penrith LGAs saw increases of about 180 people over the same period, while the Sydney LGA recorded a whopping 2777 people needing help.
Regionally, an additional 139 people received help last year in Wollongong, 125 in Walgett in northern NSW, and 86 on the Central Coast.
A 2023 report by the NSW Ombudsman found the state’s homelessness services had turned 589 children, with between 2300-2600 seeking specialist services.
Premier Chris Minns allocated about $224m in last year’s state budget for social housing, though advocates said at the time investment was not enough.