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Enough is enough - 3 years of homelessness data show service reforms failing people experiencing homelessness

Press release December 14, 2018 NSW Homelessness

Urgent action is required to address the demand for homelessness services – in 2017/18 over 71,000 clients were supported by homelessness services in New South Wales according to data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

This is a 38% increase in clients since the Going Home Staying Home reforms undertaken by the NSW Government in 2014 - this increase has been similar across the three years of available data.  Following these reforms homelessness services are contracted to deliver services to around 58,000 clients each year and so are supporting 22% more clients than the system is designed, and funded, for.  


And, homelessness services in NSW are finding it difficult to meet the crisis accommodation needs of clients due to services being full, with 2 in 5 clients not receiving any form of crisis accommodation despite requesting it. Again, this is consistent across the three years of available data. 


Homelessness services are also finding it challenging to provide the desired outcome for clients - housing. Almost two thirds of clients at the end of support who were homeless prior to accessing a service have no long term accommodation – they are still experiencing homelessness despite receiving support.  


This situation is due to the chronic lack of affordable housing in NSW.  There are 60,000 people on the social housing waiting list across NSW and according to the Anglicare 2018 Rental Snapshot less than 1% of private rentals are affordable for people on low incomes across the greater Sydney region.  


“This is the third year of data since the homelessness reforms undertaken 2014 and it confirms the untenable demand for homelessness services in NSW”. said Katherine McKernan, CEO of Homelessness NSW.


“The figures also highlight the impact of the housing affordability crisis in New South Wales on the most vulnerable. Homelessness will continue to rise unless governments urgently invest in the social housing system, take action to make private rentals affordable and appropriately resource homelessness services to meet the current demand.  


We estimate that we need investment in at least 5,000 additional social housing properties every year for the next 10 years to even manage the current demand.”

Action is also required to address domestic and family violence in NSW.  The AIHW data shows a continued increase in the number of clients seeking assistance due to domestic and family violence with over 26,000 people seeking assistance in 2017/18.  This is a 44% increase since 2013/14 and this figure has been steadily increasing each year.


“Increasing numbers of women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence are seeking assistance from homelessness services. But services are not being funded to keep up with this demand. Ensuring a resourced and funded homelessness sector is vital to ensuring the safety of those escaping domestic and family violence” DVNSW’s CEO Moo Baulch said.


And, In NSW, there were over 13,800 young people in between the ages 15-24 who presented alone.


“Despite reducing youth homelessness being one of the Premier’s priorities, these figures show that young people are increasingly requiring support from homelessness services. Urgent investment is required to prevent youth homelessness and to provide affordable housing options for young people”. Yfoundations’ CEO Zoe Robinson said.


Quick Facts


In 2017/18 approximately:


•       71,000 clients were supported by homelessness services (38% increase since NSW Govt reforms)


•       26,000 clients were escaping domestic and family violence (37% of all clients)


•       13,400 clients were unaccompanied young people aged 15 – 24 (19% of all clients)


•       20,000 clients were Aboriginal (28% of all clients)


•       5,300 clients were aged over 55 (72% increase since NSW Govt reforms)


•       2 in 5 clients did not receive crisis or other accommodation despite requesting it


•       2 in 3 clients who were homeless prior to accessing a service had no long term accommodation or housing at the end of support


•       Homelessness services are funded to support around 58,000 clients, yet in 2017/18 provided a service to over 71,000 clients


NSW Homelessness