City’s HPIC helpline assists 60,000 people in distress every year

City’s HPIC helpline assists 60,000 people in distress every year

Every day, the City of Sydney’s Homeless Persons Information Centre (HPIC) is providing a lifeline for approximately 160 people in desperate need of emergency accommodation.

Last year alone, HPIC helped more than 15,000 people from across the country – many of them single parents with children – to connect to health services, emergency accommodation and other social agencies.

The majority of callers were experiencing housing stress, family breakdown and personal conflicts, with many saying they previously lived in Queensland, Victoria and outer metropolitan Sydney.

The centre also fielded calls from New Zealand, the United States and Europe, often from expats seeking to return to Australia after their visas had expired, or from women seeking a new life away from violent partners.

The HPIC toll-free telephone information and referral service was established in 1984, and operates from 9am-10pm every day.

Last financial year, HPIC received 58,664 calls for assistance. Of those callers, 45,448 related to people who had nowhere to sleep that night and were seeking help to find accommodation.

Most of the calls – 36,879 – came from single people, but 6,192 came from single parents with children.

HPIC Coordinator Mauricio Parraguez has worked at HPIC for the past 14 years and said over that time he had seen an increase in the demand for housing.

“There has been an increase in rental prices and also the waiting list for social housing is now up to 15 years in some places,” Mr Parraguez said.

“Boarding houses used to charge about $100 a week for a room, but a lot of these places have been turned into backpacker hostels or more upmarket boarding houses, and they’re now about $180-$220 a week. On average that represents around 81 per cent of the income of someone on Rentstart.

“Adding to those demands is the increased need for temporary or emergency housing, which makes it very hard for us because there is just nowhere to send people.

“Our staff canvas all the options and go out of their way to assist and we do everything we can to prevent people from becoming homeless.”

Mr Parraguez said the busiest time of the year for HPIC was in the warmer months.

“January, February and March are our busiest times as people seem to overstretch their finances over the Christmas period,” Mr Parraguez said.

“This causes a burden on the family dynamics in which HPIC responds to an increase in calls characterised by family breakdowns, domestic violence situations and crisis evictions, where people have been kicked out by their landlords or they haven’t been able to pay their mortgage.

“If a family is relying on one person for their income, it only takes that person to lose their job for the whole family to find itself in trouble.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the large number of people needing help highlighted the urgent need for all levels of government to work together to provide affordable housing and ensure that people do not become trapped in a state of homelessness.

“Too few people are leaving crisis systems and entering stable, long-term housing of their own because of the growing deficit in affordable, accessible housing,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City’s Homeless Persons Information Centre is a vital helpline connecting people with services, but the help they can provide is limited if there is no accommodation available.”

Those who are unable to access accommodation, including adults with children, are forced to rely on families and friends, sleep in their cars, or find safe space to sleep on the streets.

The City is committed to a target of 15 per cent of all homes in the city being classified as affordable housing or social housing by 2030, and has also adopted an Affordable Rental Housing Strategy to help provide 3,000 affordable new homes.

Over 160 rough sleepers have been assisted off the streets and into long-term housing over the past two years due to the Way2Home homeless outreach service funded by the City of Sydney and Housing NSW.

“We hope these strategies, and the continued funding and operation of HPIC, will provide people with access to homes they can afford, while also preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We can’t solve this heartbreaking problem on our own and we are working with the NSW Government to deliver urgently needed affordable housing stock.”

City Homelessness Unit Manager Liz Giles said a main focus of the City’s Homelessness Strategy was to reduce the risk of homelessness occurring in the first place.

“Preventing the flow of new people into a system where they become stuck must underpin the approach of government at all levels,” Ms Giles said.

“A key element of this approach is the Homelessness Brokerage Program, operated by YWCA NSW, which is focussed on preventing homelessness by providing emergency assistance to pay for fares so people can return to their families, assistance with rental or utility arrears, storage for personal belongings, or short term emergency accommodation.

“HPIC refers those in need to this program when rapid intervention is required.”

 

Homeless Persons Information Centre

Telephone Toll Free: 1800 234 566 or 02 9265 9081

Seven days a week: 9am-10pm (closed each day between 1-2pm)

 

Homeless Persons Information Centre 2011-12 statistics:

Total number of calls received:                                                           Total number of clients:

2006-07

54,106

2006-07

13,667

2007-08

53,512

2007-08

14,556

2008-09

66,610

2008-09

15,917

2009-10

74,013

2009-10

15,418

2010-11

63,145

2010-11

15,534

2011-12

58,664

2011-12

15,901

 

Accommodation required (family group):                                      Top six last permanent locations:

Single   person

36,879

Queensland

1,974

Single   person with children

6,192

Victoria

1,640

Couple   with children

1,209

Campbelltown

968

Couple   only

968

Newcastle

945

Others

177

Penrith

837

Unspecified

23

Sydney

745

 

Top six primary reasons for homelessness:                                              Top six characteristics:

Housing   stress

8,790

Mental health

25,845

Family   breakdown

8,279

Drugs or alcohol

17,115

Interpersonal   conflict

5,521

Medical

14,825

Itinerant/long   term homeless

4,896

Physical disability

8,124

Substance   abuse

3,194

Past drugs or alcohol

7,573

Mental   health

2,654

Single parent

7,043

 

For more information visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/homelessnessservices

For media enquiries, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Jodie Minus phone 0467 803 815 or email jminus@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or email jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

 

 

Popular Tags