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Housing Affordability is a Nation Wide Issue

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Source: Council for Homeless Persons

We know that the number of people trapped in the cycle of chronic homelessness is on the rise. It is one of the most visible social problems we face today. Lack of affordable housing options is the number one cause of homelessness, and it’s a nation wide issue.

Away from the streets the majority of homeless people are surviving in severely crowded dwellings, refuges, and other forms of crisis accommodation. Many of these options are not only temporary – they are unsafe.

Then there are the Almost Homeless – low income earners battling unaffordable rents and an absence of alternatives. Those people represent an incredible one in ten households – that is 850,000 people who are one more rent hike away from homelessness.

While our urban centres are certainly the most unaffordable – the squeeze is spreading further and further out. The last Census found that 60 per cent of Australians sleeping rough were outside the major cities

Mandy Booker at Homeless Hub provides frontline services to the homeless population in the  -Illawarra region, and free outreach services to the growing number of people who are at risk of becoming homeless. In the Illawarra region, around 1000 people are homeless each night, and the Homeless Hub is a lifeline for many of these people. 

“There is a lot of media around prices and the lack of affordable housing. But it is so much more than sound grab – it is a deep problem that is hurting so many people from all walks of life.”

Many smaller townships like Wollongong are absorbing large numbers of people who are migrating in search of cheaper accommodation, safety, and accessible support services.

“We see lots of people who are migrating in search of safety, support and the hope of more affordable housing options.”

But even in regional Australia private rental options are too expensive – or simply unwilling to take on lower income tenants. Social housing stock is at historical lows with waiting lists ranging up to 10 years. Even the UN is concerned about the boiling housing market, lack of social housing, and its impact on average and low income earners.

We echo the position of the Council to Homeless Persons that we urgently need leadership on a National Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy. We need strong funding arrangements for the states to support local services.

Right now, the not-for-profit sector is shouldering the burden with ever shrinking government support. The majority of the programs we provide grants to have no public funding. StreetSmart grants are able to fill the gap with the support of businesses and individuals who are concerned about what is happening in their communities.

Homeless Hub is one of the services doing what it can, with the resources they have, to try and ease some of the pressure people in housing stress are facing.

“So many people are just barely keeping a roof over their heads. They are being priced out of their homes. Rather than wait until people become homeless, we really need to provide support for them to stay housed.”

This month our StreetFunder program is supporting Homeless Hub with a grant for their mobile outreach program. If you want to lend a hand, you can find out more here.

 


StreetFunder crowd sources support for grassroots projects that work to combat homelessness.

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Hunger and Food Security: an Invisible Crisis

By | StreetFunder, StreetSmart News, Uncategorised | No Comments

CareVan works in the Victorian and NSW boarder and serves up company and hot meals to the most vulnerable in the community.

This month is one of the coldest of the year. For those without a safe place to sleep or without the resources to heat their home, it’s the toughest time of year. That is why we are supporting three projects this June that are providing hot meals to people doing it tough.

Food security is an invisible crisis in our community. The dismantling of the social safety net by successive governments, housing stress, stagnant income growth, job insecurity and the cost of living are piling up – and it’s costing people dearly.

1 in 6 Australians report having experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months, and a quarter of these are going hungry regularly. This is the difference between paying rent or a decent meal. It’s the choice between the gas heater and sending the kids to school with a packed lunch. Kathy Hogarthy at the St Mary’s House of Welcome has been running their meal service for years and explains that the “poorest of the poor” is a fast growing group:

“The demand for our services is unprecedented. In the last six months our daily breakfast has doubled and for some of these people that will be their only meal for the day.
It gets really cold and people need a substantive meal to stay healthy and warm. People are having to make the choice between a poor meal from a 7/11 and their medication or other really essential needs.”

 

Nationally more than 644,000 people now receive food relief each month, a third of whom are children. As a wealthy country it should be deeply shocking that we have eroded our once strong social safety net to such an extent that more than half a million people cannot put food on the table every month.

The depth of this problem is indicated by the diversity of those it effects. People with a disability, seniors, aboriginals, migrants and asylum seekers, women escaping domestic violence, people in rural or remote areas, single parents, as well as single men. Kathy has witnessed a shift in the kind of people coming in for the meal service:

“We are seeing a lot more women than in the past, lots of them sleeping in their cars and coming to us for a shower and a meal. Aboriginal people, and even children. The working poor haven’t seen an income rise in years, and can’t cope. There are so many factors, and so many people who just can’t even scrape by anymore.”

 

Happy diners at the CareVan meal service

The CareVan operates a meal service in Albury Wodonga for some of the communities most vulnerable, many of whom are wedged between different state arrangements of housing and social services. They also support a local church by donating meals, which Stacey Franklin says brings in more working class people who cannot cope with the cost of living, but still have a roof over their heads. Popping in to grab a take-away is less confronting for people who don’t have much interaction with charitable services. For these people, bill shock is a big reason they are struggling and need support when a big bill lands in their letter box.

With the sharp increase of people sleeping rough, we are confronted by poverty every time we step outside. The people cluttered around the safety of inner city streets are at the rough end of crisis. Less visible are families who can’t afford rent, let alone put food on the table. For every six people sleeping rough there is another 100 invisible people not able to afford the basics like food and shelter. Every one of these people deserves better, and that includes a nutritious meal and safe place to call home.

While we believe that governments need to step up and take the lead to address this crisis – we know that takes time, and people are struggling right now. You can support CareVan, St Mary’s House of Welcome and the Adelaide Day Centre meals services through our StreetFunder by following the link below.

StreetSmart is all about crowdfunded people power and getting every dollar donated to where it’s need most.

JOIN US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER THIS WINTER BY DONATING TO OUR STREETFUNDER

 

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