[Hpn] Australian Capital Territory, AU - Homeless numbers on the rise: report finds - The Canberry Times - AU - July 12, 2002

Editor Editor <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Fri, 12 Jul 2002 08:48:12 -0500


Homeless numbers on the rise reports Australian Capital Territory
As many as 5,350 people experience homelessness each year.
21.7 per cent  were reported "chronically homeless" (for more than six months)

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By DAVID McLENNAN - The Canberry Times - AU - July 12, 2002

The Needs Analysis of Homelessness in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory)
report, issued yesterday, was written by the ACT Council of Social Service and
Morgan Disney and Associates.

It estimated there were 1265 to 1570 people (40-50 per 10,000) homeless in the
ACT at any point in time. As many as 5350 people could experience homelessness
each year.

Between 120 and 315 people were without conventional housing and sleeping on the
streets, in cars or deserted buildings, each night.

About 600 individuals or households lived in stop-gap accommodation - moving
between temporary accommodations, such as friends or emergency housing - and at
least 500 households were in insecure or marginal housing.

The report said homelessness was typically the result of deteriorating
circumstances that had either not been identified or addressed. The most common
factors were financial difficulty (40.8 per cent of cases) and relationship
breakdowns (38.8 per cent).

"People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are among the most
marginalised and disadvantaged in our community.

Regular activities are disrupted and personal aspirations shelved, as the need
for shelter, food and safety becomes a daily struggle," it said.

During a two-week period, 380 valid requests by 341 people or couples, with 218
accompanying children, went unmet by the Supported Accommodation Assistance
Program, which provides accommodation and support.

Unmet need was particularly high for couples and single adults with children,
young people and indigenous people. The report said SAAP services were needed in
Belconnen and Gungahlin, especially for young and indigenous people.

It found clients of ACT SAAP were less likely to access independent
accommodation after support, and were more likely to remain homeless. In 2001,
21.7 per cent of SAAP clients were chronically homeless (for more than six
months) compared with 14.6 per cent nationally.

Support and accommodation should provide stability and minimise disruption, with
support that is portable and flexible. It should allow people to be close to
support networks, school, employment and health services. There should be
suitable exit options and a seamless pathway between services.

The report's 37 recommendations included an indigenous housing strategy,
establishing a working group on older people's homelessness and improving
practical living skills through schools.

It also called for a high-profile point of contact for people with an
accommodation crisis.

"While the immediate needs of people who are homeless may be accommodation,
their underlying needs are much more complex, requiring a coordinated response
across a diversity of health and welfare programs," the report said.

There had been a policy shift from addressing the effects of homelessness to its
prevention and early intervention.

This was good, but although prevention strategies through income support and
housing would have a long-term impact, sufficient levels of crisis accommodation
must be maintained.

Housing and Community Services Minister Bill Wood said the Government would hold
community forums to discuss the findings.

The 143 page report can be found at
http://www.decs.act.gov.au/publicat/pdf/acthomelessnessreport.pdf
in Adobe.PDF printable format.

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