Asian male poor homeless man sleeping on pathway with suffering and sad

Surging demand for WA homelessness services

The number of people accessing the services has increased by 1100, or 27.5 per cent in the five years since the 2017-18 financial year.
March 7, 2024

NEW analysis by Shelter WA reveals demand for homelessness services is soaring as the housing crisis impacts people across the state.

The analysis of newly released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data finds 5100 people every day are being helped by specialist homelessness services in WA.

The figure has increased by 1100, or 27.5 per cent in the five years since the 2017-18 financial year.

The study also found, in the 2022-23 financial year 1100 people reported sleeping rough in the month before seeking help, almost doubling from 553 five years ago, and every day 75 requests for help could not be met, up 32 per cent from 57 five years ago.

The state government’s $24.4 million rent relief program and $47.6m funding for 15 homelessness services were important initiatives and very welcomed by the sector.

“But to build on the momentum and significant investment into homelessness and social housing by the state government we need to ensure our services can meet demand. To meet demand all services urgently need an average funding boost of 25 per cent,” Shelter WA chief executive officer Kath Snell said.

“Homelessness services from Bunbury to Broome and beyond are struggling to cope with surging demand.

“Right now, we have a perfect storm of soaring rents, rock bottom vacancy rates and a cost-of-living crisis which is plunging more and more people into distress.

“People who have never asked for help in their lives are experiencing homelessness for the first time.

“Without a significant funding boost that actually meets demand, services will have to continue turning desperate people away, including women and children fleeing domestic violence.”

Shelter WA is also calling on the government to fund interim, rapid accommodation solutions while more social housing is built.

These include the conversion of vacant or underutilised properties, prefabricated or tiny homes on vacant government land and granny flats for social housing tenants to accommodate extended family.

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