Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and The Salvation Army have responded to the release of the City of Sydney Winter 2017 Street Count figures, saying that more needs to be done to address homelessness within the City of Sydney and beyond.

The count took place on Tuesday 15 August and found 386 rough sleepers across the city, just below last year’s winter count of 394 and the second highest winter count figure since the street count began in 2010.

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said:

Everyone should have access to safe, secure accommodation and a place to call home. It’s unacceptable that 386 people are sleeping rough across Sydney, and that crisis and temporary accommodation are near capacity, without the ability to house the hundreds in need.

“We must ensure that appropriate accommodation is available for everybody who is seeking it. More investment is needed from all levels of government to increase the availability of social and affordable housing, as well temporary and crisis accommodation that can meet immediate needs.

“We know from experience that putting a roof over someone’s head is an essential first step. However, many people who become homeless have complex needs and it’s essential that they receive the right long-term programs and services to support them to maintain their tenancies and address their other needs.”

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot said:

Earlier this month the Society’s petition for inclusionary zoning was discussed in the NSW Parliament, calling for a mandatory affordable housing target of 15 per cent. While our petition was endorsed by the NSW Labor Party, the Greens and independents, the Government still shows little appetite for this initiative. This is very disappointing but we will continue raising our voice.

“Charities can’t end homelessness on our own. All levels of government must collaborate with institutional investors and the not-for-profit sector to find a solution–more affordable housing stock and accessible services.

“The Society welcomes the City of Sydney’s initiative to fund a not-for-profit real estate agency because people on low and moderate incomes find it incredibly difficult to get a foot in the door of homes in the private rental market.”

Leader of The Salvation Army’s Streetlevel Mission in Sydney Mitchell Evans said:

These figures are alarming, however only 6% of those currently experiencing homelessness are ‘rough sleepers’ with many more crashing on a friends couch, in a homeless refuge, living in a car or doing whatever they can to find shelter.

“The hidden homeless are no less vulnerable than the rough sleepers, but their lack of visibility means they are often forgotten.

“We need to ensure that all Australians have access to safe, secure and affordable accommodation and we need to make sure when those most vulnerable in our community reach out for help that the resources are available to assist them in their time of most need.”

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