Fewer people sleeping rough on city streets

Fewer people sleeping rough on city streets

The City of Sydney’s annual summer street count found a significant decrease in people sleeping rough from this time last year, highlighting a recent increase in the number of people accessing housing and support.

Now in its 10th year, the street count found 329 people sleeping rough in the early hours of Tuesday 20 February, which was 104 less than the 433 people counted in February 2017.

“We welcome the significant decrease in the number of people sleeping rough this summer, which demonstrates we are on the right track with our collaborative efforts aimed at responding to and preventing homelessness – but we must never become complacent,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“This is the result of a genuine, concerted effort by the City, NSW Family and Community Services, NSW Police, NSW Health and specialist homelessness services to provide people sleeping rough with permanent housing and support.”

More than 200 staff and volunteers traversed the city from 1am to 3am on Tuesday morning to record the number of people sleeping rough. They were joined by more than 20 homelessness advisors – volunteers who have personally experienced homelessness.

As well as the 329 people found sleeping rough on Tuesday morning, 495 were sleeping in crisis and temporary accommodation beds across the city. State-funded crisis and temporary accommodation beds were found to be at 89 per cent capacity.

There were also 34 people with no fixed address staying at St Vincent’s Hospital, representing 8.8 per cent of total inpatients.

“The only long-term solution for homelessness is to help vulnerable people, including those who are dealing with serious mental health and substance abuse issues, into long term housing. While we welcome the decrease in the number of people sleeping rough this summer, the fact that there are 329 people sleeping rough on any given night means we must continue to focus on prevention,” the Lord Mayor Clover said.

“The City is committed to playing its part. While the provision of social and affordable housing is primarily the responsibility of the state government, we are using all the options available to us to create more affordable homes. We continue to call on the NSW Government to extend affordable housing levies across the state to enable the provision of even more affordable housing units in our city.

“Without the supply of a diverse mix of social and affordable housing – with specialist support provided for people with complex needs – people sleeping rough will struggle to break the cycle of homelessness.”

Through subsidised land sales, the City of Sydney has offered discounts to community housing providers totalling more than $22 million.

The City’s affordable housing levies have provided more than 800 affordable rental housing units for key workers and low income earners.

The City continues to fund affordable and community housing initiatives through its grants program, including $3 million to St George Community Housing (SGCH) to house and support young people at risk of homelessness and $1.5 million to HammondCare for the development of a subsidised residential aged care facility.

The City is investing $6.6 million over three years to continue to address homelessness, which includes $3.5 million to specialist homelessness services via the NSW Government’s Family and Community Services agency.

“We are the only council in Australia with a dedicated homelessness unit working seven days a week to reduce homelessness and its impacts in the city, by linking people sleeping rough with homelessness services,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Those specialist homelessness services funded by the City each year help hundreds of people access housing with support, and they prevent hundreds more from becoming homeless.”

The City encourages Sydney residents to support people sleeping rough by donating their time and resources towards local charities and service providers committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness.

For more information on how to support people sleeping rough visit cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/community-support/homelessness

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Advisor Angela Salt.
Phone 0455 958 503 or email asalt@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, please contact Communications Officer Julia Lenton.
Phone 0410 748 039 or email jlenton@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au