North Shore's hid­den home­less

Monthly Chronicle - - Front Page - Jenny Bar­lass

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

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