Media release | Friday, 15 December 2023
Homelessness NSW is urging the state government to double the availability of temporary accommodation over the next three years as frontline providers hit breaking point.
It follows new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data showing that 51 per cent of people who needed short-term or temporary accommodation in 2022-23 were not able to access it.
A Homelessness NSW survey of more than 200 specialist homelessness services, providers and allied services has also found temporary accommodation is particularly scarce in rural areas, forcing people to travel hundreds of kilometres to access support.
The report launched on Thursday makes 26 recommendations to bolster the availability of temporary accommodation after finding that much of it is poor quality, inaccessible for many people, including people with disabilities, and unsafe – particularly for people escaping domestic and family violence.
Homelessness NSW CEO Dom Rowe says the availability of temporary accommodation must double to plug the gap outside of major cities, for people with disabilities and to provide safe options for women and children fleeing violence.
“We need twice as much temporary accommodation and we need to ensure what’s already available is safe and meets minimum standards,” she said.
“It is heartbreaking and unacceptable that half the people who need temporary accommodation in NSW are unable to get it. Providers do their absolute best to house everyone they need, but there is simply not the supply to ensure vulnerable people have a safe place to sleep.
“The shortfall of temporary accommodation – particularly acute in regional and remote areas – means many people are not able to flee unsafe or violent situations. And the temporary accommodation that is available is often poor quality and not necessarily secure for women and children.”
HNSW’s recommendations build on changes announced by the government in July extending access to temporary accommodation from two to seven days, scrapping annual caps and removing bank account caps for people experiencing family and domestic violence.
“This was an excellent start, but the job is not done. The government must dramatically expand the availability of and access to temporary accommodation and ensure it is fit for purpose, at the same time as investing in frontline support services and social housing,” Ms Rowe said.
Key recommendations to include:
- Increase the supply of safe and high-quality temporary accommodation across all regions of the state, with a specific emphasis on accommodation that can be directly managed and provided by specialist homelessness services.
- Bolster the availability of temporary accommodation in regional and remote areas, and ensure there are resources for services to provide transport to temporary accommodation for people who need to travel.
- Increase the supply of temporary accommodation that is accessible to people with disabilities.
- Increase the accessibility and safety of temporary accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, including by allocating 20% of all temporary accommodation for this purpose.
- Open up eligibility for temporary accommodation for people who are not Australian residents experiencing homelessness or domestic and family violence.
Georgie Moore 0477 779 928