Soar­ing house prices lock Aus­tralia’s home­less out

New Straits Times - - World -

SYD­NEY: Home­less­ness is on the rise in Aus­tralia, with a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple fail­ing to ben­e­fit from the na­tion’s stel­lar econ­omy as it read­ies to mark a record 26 years with­out a re­ces­sion, ex­perts warn.

The un­prece­dented eco­nomic ex­pan­sion — fu­elled by a mas­sive min­ing in­vest­ment boom — has boosted house prices and lined the pock­ets of cit­i­zens. But, it has also led to the coun­try’s big­gest cities, Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, be­ing ranked sec­ond and 10th on a list of the world’s least af­ford­able hous­ing.

The soar­ing prices have placed pres­sure on those al­ready strug­gling to af­ford a roof over their heads, with a pub­lic out­cry on hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity spark­ing ac­tion by fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments to fund more so­cial and in­ex­pen­sive res­i­den­tial projects.

“Aus­tralia is a wealthy coun­try, so it shouldn’t have the lev­els of home­less­ness that it has now,” Home­less­ness New South Wales chief Kather­ine McKer­nan said.

“The num­bers of peo­ple seek­ing home­less­ness sup­port are higher com­pared with Lon­don or New York. Home­less­ness is in­creas­ing in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne due to the lack of af­ford­able hous­ing.”

Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare said de­mand for home­less­ness ser­vices reached a record high of 279,000 peo­ple in 2015-2016, led by those af­fected by do­mes­tic and fam­ily vi­o­lence, a 33 per cent jump from 20112012 when the data was first col­lected.

More than 100,000 peo­ple were re­ported home­less in the 2011 na­tional census, with wel­fare groups ex­pect­ing the sur­vey held last year to show an in­crease. AFP

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