LGBTIQA+ community members are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than the rest of the population. Violence, family rejection, discrimination, and trauma in these communities drive the over-representation of LGBTIQA+ people among those who are homeless. We need to invest in more specialised services and workers who can support housing pathways for LGBTIQ+ people to ensure they are safe and secure.
Over the last 15 years Australia has fallen from 15th out of 153 countries in the 2006 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap rankings to 50th in 2021. This decline reflects poor Government policy development to combat well known social disadvantages impacting women of all ages. For example, for over a decade it has been widely known that older women are the fastest-growing group of homeless people and the greatest cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence. The Covid pandemic has deepened these issues and currently there are too many women living in poverty, housing insecurity and homelessness. That’s why we recently funded 10 smaller organisations supporting vulnerable women.
To respond to the immediate and ongoing challenges that many vulnerable people are experiencing due to flooding through VIC and NSW, StreetSmart has raised funds to support community organisations who are responding to the needs of their flood affected communities. Through the generous support of our donors, $17,400 been raised and distributed to 4 organisations to provide emergency relief, material aid, and food relief to people impacted by floods, particularly those who were previously vulnerable and experiencing disadvantage.
Australia is facing a rental crisis driven by decades of poor housing policy and social housing underinvestment, supercharged in recent years by the pandemic and world events. These factors have resulted in homelessness increasing by 8% and 42% of all low-income households experiencing rental stress. For people living on the margins, these factors lead to significant challenges in finding and maintaining safe and secure homes. Supporting someone with all the essentials needed to make a house a home, increases the likelihood that they will maintain their tenancy and avoid a return to homelessness. Through StreetSmart’s Making-a-Home program, vulnerable people are supported into safe, sustainable and secure tenancies, a critical step in preventing and ending homelessness.
Across Australia during Homelessness Week, over 600 cafes, 50 roasters, and countless communities were coming together over their favourite brew to take action against homelessness. This incredible collective effort in August has helped us distribute a total of $159,000 across 130 frontline organisations that are supporting our most vulnerable. Such a vital, local impact across so many regions in Australia is a testament to the enthusiasm and support of the roasters, cafes, sponsors, and of course, coffee lovers involved.
As the year draws to a close, it’s been a challenging time for low-income families feeling the pinch as well as those displaced by flooding in VIC and NSW. Local Sheridan stores have been raising awareness and funds so that over 10,500 sleep kits can be distributed to those most vulnerable in their communities. This means SleepSafe is on track to deliver over 40,000 high quality linen and towel Sleep Kits in 2022, bringing comfort, dignity, and support to vulnerable people in crisis.
Australians are turning to charity, often for the first time in their lives, as they try to make ends meet and put food on the table. Over one million people every month are relying on Foodbank to help feed themselves and their families. As they struggle to pay rent and bills, purchasing food slips down the priority list, often resulting in going without. With the help of a philanthropic partner, we have been able to distribute $80,000 in grants to 16 community organisations to make more food available for those struggling.
Like so many in the not-for-profit sector the small team at StreetSmart have been working hard over the past 26 months to do what we can to support vulnerable people through the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic aftershocks. We have been working closely with hundreds of small grassroots services who are on the frontline delivering client facing services. 9 recent grants of $11,700 have been distributed to provide recognition, support, and capacity building for frontline staff.
We are celebrating 3 years of SleepSafe, our material aid program that funds and distributes high quality sheets and towels to frontline organisations and the vulnerable communities they support. Sustained by the efforts of Sheridan staff and the donations of their customers, our SleepSafe initiative has provided dignity and comfort to more than 64,400 vulnerable Australians and invaluable support to the 540 community organisations that assist them.
During Homelessness Week 2021 cafes across all states and territories are becoming homelessness advocates by raising awareness about the devastating crisis facing thousands of Australians without a home, and encouraging customers to dig deep to help provide vital funding. Cafes will also be donating $1 per coffee sold on Friday 6 August. What a huge effort in such a tough year.