According to a new report in the Daily Telegraph, homelessness in Sydney has risen by almost 50 per cent since 2011, with the two biggest increases among young people and older women aged 65 to 74.
These women, the report states, aren’t sleeping rough in the CBD, but are desperately hopping from favour to favour, staying on friends’ couches or sleeping in their cars, while still trying to work.
“Homelessness in NSW is largely hidden,” Katherine McKernan, head of Homelessness NSW, told the Telegraph. “Rough sleeping is only around 7 per cent of all homelessness. Most people experiencing homelessness are couch surfing, living in crisis accommodation or living in overcrowded conditions.”
The crippling cost of rent in Sydney, combined with fierce competition, compounds the problem for older women – as well as single mothers working part-time who find themselves priced out of the market.
“All they need is a safe, secure and affordable place to live,” says McKernan. “They don’t have support needs and have often never used welfare or community services — but a lack of financial independence combined with the high cost of rentals is causing homelessness.”
In December 2017, new figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare told a similar story. According to their data, the average person seeking assistance for homelessness is a 25-34 year old woman, usually a mother escaping domestic violence, The Australian reported at the time.