Lack amidst the af­flu­ence

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By LISA THOMAS

AN in­creased num­ber of res­i­dents in the western sub­urbs are fac­ing home­less­ness, ac­cord­ing to Unit­ingCare West chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­san Ash.

Ms Ash said there was a grow­ing trend of peo­ple who were ei­ther home­less or on the brink of home­less­ness be­cause of high un­em­ploy­ment and the present eco­nomic cli­mate.

She said de­spite the western sub­urbs be­ing an af­flu­ent area there were still many peo­ple in need of as­sis­tance.

“There are two groups of peo­ple,” she said. “One group of peo­ple who are strug­gling to stay con­nected to hous­ing be­cause of a sig­nif­i­cant change like a re­dun­dancy or loss of hours. They might not be home­less, but are at risk of home­less­ness par­tic­u­larly if they’ve had a lot of debt or if hous­ing costs are more than their in­come.

“They won’t be vis­i­ble in the com­mu­nity, they may still live in their home and are try­ing to hold onto it, but don’t have money for food, cloth­ing and util­i­ties.

“The sec­ond group of peo­ple are home­less, but stay in the area to be close to their chil­dren’s schools, hos­pi­tals and to stay con­nected to where they were liv­ing.”

Ruah Cen­tre man­ager Matt Ni­chols said more than 15,000 peo­ple had vis­ited the North­bridge drop-in cen­tre over the past six months, with three to five new clients each day.

He said the past three years had seen a 30 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple vis­it­ing the cen­tre for food, to shower or seek med­i­cal ad­vice.

“More and more we are see­ing peo­ple who were liv­ing in the western sub­urbs, es­pe­cially fly-in-fly-out work­ers who were earn­ing good money, liv­ing in nice homes, but have lost their jobs,” he said.

“Those who are newly home­less and more vul­ner­a­ble will come into the city for ser­vices dur­ing the day and tend to go to Su­bi­aco or Shen­ton Park at night be­cause they feel safer.”

Ms Ash said in the past three months the num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing help in af­flu­ent ar­eas had risen.

She said home­less­ness was a real is­sue that was af­fect­ing peo­ple from all walks of life.

“We saw a lit­tle bit dur­ing the GFC, but we are see­ing a grow­ing group of peo­ple now and it’s con­tin­u­ing to rise,” she said

“It cer­tainly is get­ting worse and more is needed to try and help peo­ple who are strug­gling. We have called on the Fed­eral and State Gov­ern­ment to fund more home­less­ness pro­grams.”

Na­tional Home­less­ness Week will run from Au­gust 1 to 7.

If you are at risk of home­less­ness visit www.unit­ing­

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