Homelessness accessing government services increases by 40% in WA

Homeless people in WA who access government-funded services have increased by almost 40% over the past five years, a new report has found.

Both men and women face dangerous events involving violence, health and mental health, which forces them to spend time on the streets, with an over-representation in the WA region compared to Perth.

The Ending Homelessness in WA 2022 report found that 39% of homeless people accessed specialist homelessness services (SHS) between 2017 and 2022, increasing from 2,252 clients per month in 2,917 to 3,131.

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Of the homeless people, 62% were men with an average age of 40, while the women were on the whole younger.

Women also experienced greater mental health and general health issues as well as street violence.

One in six people were under the age of 24, while 52% slept rough and 24% slept in temporary accommodation.

The average time spent homeless was 64.1 months for individuals while families spent 68.2 months homeless.

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Homeless people were also affected by acts of violence, with 56% being victims and 50% threatening to harm themselves or others.

Meanwhile, the homeless were also prone to a range of health and mental health issues with depression being the most prominent at 69.5% and drug and alcohol use at 72%.

51% had been hospitalized in the previous six months.

Data from the Center for Social Impact at the University of WA also revealed that while only 6.3% of Western Australians lived in remote or very remote areas, 36% accessed SHS services while living in remote or remote areas. very distant.

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WA Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders made up 29.1% of the homeless population despite making up only 3.1% of the general population.

WA Alliance to End Homelessness executive director David Pearson said ending homelessness is possible.

“Ending homelessness is possible, we know it because more and more communities around the world are demonstrating it,” Mr Pearson said.

“In Western Australia, we have a strategy to end homelessness, and now we have a first national dashboard to track our progress towards implementing it.”

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He added that homelessness strategies need to be implemented more quickly.

“What the scorecard and report we are releasing today shows that we need to accelerate the implementation of the homelessness strategy and, alongside investments in social housing, ensure sustainable funding for services assistance to the homeless to meet the needs.”

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said Homeless Week will help increase opportunities to help solve the crisis.

“Homelessness Week will explore new ideas through workshops from local experts and keynote addresses from international leaders sharing their experience and knowledge.

“The week will forge a new conversation about the intersection of health, housing and homelessness by connecting a cross section of government and community on a system-wide post-pandemic response.”

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The state opposition has criticized the lack of available housing as a major part of the problem.

“Rent prices continue to rise while vacant homes are still at record highs,” Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin said, saying residents of Perth, Mandurah and Bunbury were homeless at a rate of 27.7, 26.8 and 25.9 people per 10,000 people.

“We have seen a continued decline in rental vacancies since the start of the pandemic, particularly in the WA country.

Mr. Martin criticized the McGowan government for its lack of a proper plan.

“Until the government comes up with a tangible plan to address homelessness in communities across the state, we can expect to see weekly rental prices continue to climb, vacancy rates at record lows record and the number of people on the public waiting list to increase,” he said.

Ashley C. Reynolds