Home­less­ness ‘ worst in close to 50 years’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LANAI SCARR

MORE Australians are sleep­ing rough or with­out a place to call home than ever be­fore ac­cord­ing to one of the sec­tor’s lead­ing ad­vo­cates.

Rev­erend Bill Crews from the Ex­o­dus Foun­da­tion has been work­ing with the home­less since 1970 and said the cur­rent state of the is­sue was worse than he had seen it in close to 50 years.

“Hon­estly it’s worse than I’ve ever seen since 1970 and it’s get­ting worse,” Rev Crews said. “There is in­creas­ing dis­crep­ancy be­tween the rich and the poor ... and there is so much con­tract work so there are a lot of peo­ple who are re­ally un­der­em­ployed and just aren’t able to pay for hous­ing.

“Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is­sues are also on the rise lead­ing to more women and chil­dren sleep­ing in their cars or on the street.

“It’s dev­as­tat­ing the num­ber of peo­ple we are see­ing on the streets. And the prob­lem is no longer con­fined to the cities. Al­most ev­ery sub­urb you go into now you will find some­one who is home­less.”

The most re­cent cen­sus data on home­less­ness is yet to be made avail­able, how­ever es­ti­mates put the fig­ure up 20 per cent since 2011, with around 23,000 Aussies sleep­ing rough.

To­day News Corp Aus­tralia will launch the Ask­Izzy power card cam­paign in or­der to ad­dress this wors­en­ing is­sue. Mem­bers of the pub­lic can pur­chase a $ 15 power card for some­one in need which charges their phone for four hours and keeps them in touch with ser­vices like food and shel­ter.

Ask­Izzy is a mo­bile app and web­site that al­lows home­less users to search for vi­tal ser­vices in their area. This year it has had more than 400,000 searches from peo­ple sleep­ing rough.

The Townsville Bul­letin can also re­veal the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment will to­day be­gin mak­ing avail­able $ 117.2 mil­lion in key fund­ing to sup­port more than 700 crit­i­cal front­line home­less­ness ser­vices.

The money will pri­ori­tise ser­vices to women and chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and young peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

THERE IS IN­CREAS­ING DIS­CREP­ANCY BE­TWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR.

REV­EREND BILL CREWS

Pic­ture: TONY GOUGH

STREET- HARD­ENED: John Ken­ney has spent most of his life on the street and can see the ben­e­fit of News Corp’s Ask­Izzy cam­paign.

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