Homelessness up but NSW Government determined to drive it down
The number of people sleeping rough across the state has increased in the past year, demonstrating that the deepening housing crisis is hurting our most vulnerable citizens. The NSW Government acknowledges this crisis and is determined to drive this figure down.
Minister for Homelessness Rose Jackson said the 2023 street count of rough sleepers recorded 1,623 people compared to 1,207 people last year.
“It is deeply concerning to see rising numbers of people sleeping rough. We need to do better, we need to drive these numbers down and provide our most vulnerable with access to safe and secure housing,” Ms Jackson said.
In particular, the 2023 street count revealed more people are sleeping rough in our regions.
“We must ensure we are supporting our regional and rural communities. I have seen firsthand the housing issues experienced in regional and rural areas. I want to accelerate social housing developments like Tolland Estate in Wagga Wagga, making sure people in our regions also have access to safe, stable housing.
“The incoming NSW Government has made a clear commitment to rebuilding a housing system with dignity and fairness at its core and prioritising the delivery of more homes to tackle our housing crisis.
“The two things that are central to our plan to drive homelessness numbers down are delivering more social housing and more comprehensive support services.
“You can’t solve homelessness without housing – that is why are creating Homes NSW, auditing NSW Government land to identify options for more housing, freezing the sale of public housing and working with our Commonwealth partners to deliver the much needed Social Housing Accelerator payment.
“On support services, we have already announced a two-year extension of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) contracts. The end date for these contracts will change from 30 June 2024 to 30 June 2026. Providing stability and continuity for some of the state's most vulnerable people.
“From 1 July people in temporary accommodation won’t need to complete a Rental Diary to demonstrate they are actively looking for housing. Vulnerable people seeking housing need support not arbitrary, bureaucratic processes.
“The 12-month freeze on the requirement to complete seeker diaries will be in place from next month as we thoroughly review and assess this process.
“To be clear, these initiatives are just the start, there is so much more that needs to be done to support our homelessness community – our aim is that experiences of homelessness are rare, brief and not repeated. We know we have a long way to go in achieving that goal.”
Assertive outreach is delivered in 58 local government areas across NSW to engage people sleeping rough and support them into long term, stable accommodation with the support they need to stay housed.
“We want to minimise the frequency, severity, and cycle of rough sleepers. The NSW Government and our partners will continue active efforts to offer alternate accommodation and support options to people sleeping rough,” Ms Jackson said.
More than 300 local organisations partnered with the NSW Government to complete street counts in more than 350 towns and suburbs in 76 local government areas.
The results of the annual street count support local service coordination to people sleeping rough and provides the NSW Government with valuable data as it works to drive down homelessness across the state.
Find out more about how the 2023 Street Count was done and the breakdown of results across NSW