North Shore's hidden homeless
How bad is it for people with no roof over their heads?
While a sizeable number of people on the North Shore are delighted with the upward trajectory of local property values, another chunk are severely harmed by it - perhaps forever.
These are the North Shore’s homeless, like “Kathryn” and “Ben” (opposite), from the affluent homes and suburbs of Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby.
Far from the vagrant living rough, the North Shore’s army of homeless are the teenagers who can’t bare to live at home any longer because of a mentally ill mother or an alcoholic father. Or the single parent family on a low wage who can’t afford skyrocketing rents. Or most shockingly, a new cohort of homeless welfare agencies are seeing emerge in the last few years: women over 70, accounting for around one in six homeless.
In the 2011 census night there were 106,000 people without a home across the nation, while five years later that figure had increased by 14% to 116,000 men, women and children without a safe place to call home. Our most recent Census also showed 6,407 over 55s homeless across the state compared to 4,475 in 2011, again a one third increase. That means there are 2000 more homeless over 55s in NSW than five years ago.
“The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) statistics show us that homelessness is increasing in Northern Sydney,” says Mission Australia Area Manager, Rachelle Elphick. “The majority are not rough sleepers but people who are experiencing hidden homelessness.”
These hidden are the teenage couch surfer, the woman fleeing domestic violence, the elderly lady unable to afford her rent, the single parent family.
“We also know that people living in severely overcrowded dwellings account for a significant amount of these homeless statistics.”
Just how bad is it locally? Rachelle says that in the Hornsby region in the 2011 Census 178 people were homeless, increasing to 191 in 2016. And in Ku-ring-gai it went from 57 to 95, an increase of almost two thirds over the five year period.
“Affordable accommodation in Hornsby Ku-ring-gai is very limited especially if you’re a young person, single parent family, on a low income or receiving income benefits,” said Rachelle Elphick.
A toxic combination of factors are conspiring to produce this sharp rise: a dire shortage of secure affordable private and public housing, rent hikes of over 100% across our area in the last