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 their educational and economic outcomes.
How are we tracking?
The most recent available data (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 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census remains the primary metric against which this target is measured, however this data is only available every five years. The most recent Census was conducted in August 2021, during a lockdown. The ABS anticipates publishing estimates of homelessness in early to mid-2023.
To provide us with more frequent updates about how we are tracking and to better understand what services are needed where, the NSW Government has committed to undertaking an annual statewide street count of people sleeping rough.
The February 2021 statewide street count is the most up to date indication available of how we are tracking towards this target. The February 2021 street count recorded a 13% reduction compared to the first statewide street count in 2020, counting 1,141 people sleeping rough.
While this demonstrates that the strategies and efforts to reduce street sleeping are working, sustaining and improving on this result requires increasing supports for people sleeping rough and continuing investments in prevention and early intervention.
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. Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing, Community Housing Providers and Specialist Homelessness Services have continued to provide accommodation and support to people sleeping rough throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has included increasing the number of assertive outreach street patrols being carried out to engage with people sleeping rough. We’re also offering more flexibility in temporary accommodation in the hope people will engage with our services and find a long term solution to their homelessness.
What are we doing
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, 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.
The DCJ Housing team 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 $122.1 million investment by the NSW Government that aims to support people who are street sleeping across NSW during COVID-19 into stable accommodation, linked to wrap around support. Together Home will support over 1,000 people with a history of rough sleeping, into long-term housing with intensive case management and wrap around supports over two years.
Assertive outreach is an evidence-based practice designed to combat street homelessness with patrols taking place in over 50 Local Government Areas. 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.
Recognising the complex nature of homelessness, the NSW government is investing in prevention and early intervention to help people avoid sleeping rough. This includes:
- Helping Domestic Violence victims stay safely in their homes
- Expanding supports for people in Social Housing
- New supports for people leaving prison
- 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.
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.