Reducing homelessness

Reduce street homelessness across NSW by 50% by 2025. 

A man reading a book at home

Why is this important?

Having a stable home is still out of reach for too many people. The NSW Government is working to improve the way we prevent and respond to homelessness so that people are supported to live safer, more stable and happier lives.  

We are working towards zero street homelessness and have signed an agreement with the Institute of Global Homelessness, along with other partners, to halve the number of people sleeping rough across NSW by 2025. 

This Premier’s Priority means helping people experiencing street homelessness find secure and stable housing. This would place them in the best position to improve their health and wellbeing, and achieve their educational and economic goals. 

How are we tracking?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 Census revealed that people sleeping rough account for 7% of all homeless people in NSW. This means almost 2600 people were living on NSW’s streets in 2016. 

The ABS Census remains the primary metric against which this target is measured. The most recent Census was conducted in August 2021. The ABS has published an early release indicating 990 people were living in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out in NSW on Census night. The Census was conducted during a COVID-19 lockdown period which may have impacted the number of people counted. This figure is also subject to change when the ABS publishes the final estimates of Homelessness from the 2021 Census, anticipated in early to mid-2023. 

To provide us with more frequent updates about how we are tracking and better understand what services are needed where, the NSW Government has committed to undertaking an annual statewide street count of people sleeping rough. 

During the February 2022 street counts, 1207 people were counted sleeping rough, compared to 1141 in 2021 and 1314 in 2020.

Improving on this result requires continued supports for people sleeping rough, to provide pathways to housing with ongoing wrap around support so people can stay housed, as well as investment in prevention and early intervention to stop people becoming homeless. 

The COVID-19 pandemic demanded a prompt response from housing and homelessness services to protect people experiencing homelessness and the broader community from further transmission. The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Community Housing Providers and Specialist Homelessness Services continued to provide accommodation and support to people sleeping rough throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This included increasing the number of assertive outreach street patrols to engage with people sleeping rough, additional funding to services to meet the emergency accommodation needs of people experiencing homelessness, and the roll out of the Together Home program. We also offered more flexibility in temporary accommodation in the hope people would engage with our services and we could support them to find a long-term solution to their homelessness.
 

Download the Reducing Homelessness data information sheet (PDF 171.96KB)

What are we doing?

Improving data

Gathering accurate data about the number of people experiencing street homelessness is essential to informing the best way to target resources to those who need the most support.

The NSW Government has committed to undertaking annual street counts of people experiencing street homelessness to deliver more regular data on progress towards achieving the Premier’s Priority target. Street counts help foster local collaboration and inform local approaches to prevention and the provision of housing options and post-crisis support.

The NSW Government and the End Street Sleeping Collaboration have also been working together to pilot a real-time, by-name street homelessness database to help coordinate services for people experiencing street homelessness.

Further information can be found on the DCJ website. 

Supporting people off the street

DCJ Housing is working with partners from Corrections, Health, councils, and NGOs to support people off the street through initiatives such as the Together Home and Assertive Outreach programs. 

Together Home is a $177.5 million investment by the NSW Government supporting people who are street sleeping across NSW during COVID-19 into stable accommodation, linked to wrap around support.

Together Home will support over 1000 people with a history of rough sleeping, into long-term housing with intensive case management and wrap around supports over 2 years. After 2 years of housing with support, people will be helped to transition to mainstream accommodation and support services.  

To assist people transition into long-term accommodation, the NSW Government has allocated $55.4 million to extend leasing and support services for up to 200 people in the program. This includes new supply of 120 additional dwellings. Combined with previous funding, this will deliver more than 250 dwellings to transition clients into long-term accommodation.  

Assertive outreach is an evidence-based practice designed to combat street homelessness, with patrols taking place in almost 60 Local Government Areas. DCJ Housing staff, specialist caseworkers and health professionals conduct patrols, proactively engage with people experiencing street homelessness, and provide a pathway to stable long-term housing.

Preventing homelessness

Recognising the complex nature of homelessness, the NSW Government is investing in prevention and early intervention to help people avoid entering homelessness. This includes:

  • helping Domestic Violence victims stay safely in their homes
  • expanding supports for people in Social Housing
  • supports for people leaving prison
  • new supports for people exiting mental health units 
  • collaborating with government agencies to recognise the signs of risks of homelessness and refer people at risk of homelessness to services and supports.

Do you need help?

If you, or anyone you know, are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, the following resources can assist.

Homelessness support 

If you are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or you need to find services on behalf of someone else, you can use Ask Izzy

Ask Izzy is a search tool to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness find shelter, food, health and other critical support services. 

You can also contact your nearest social housing provider for housing advice and assistance. 

Reducing Homelessness
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