Streetcount records rough sleepers

The first joint survey of homelessness conducted by five Melbourne councils has recorded 392 people sleeping rough across inner Melbourne.

On a single night in June, more than 400 trained volunteers visited streets, parks and laneways in the cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra, Stonnington and Maribyrnong to collect information on people sleeping rough.

The results of StreetCount will help us understand rough sleeping, so we can better plan our support services and work together towards long-term solutions to address homelessness.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said we have significantly increased coordination of homelessness agencies and support services in the central city, working with the Victorian State Government.

‘These are our city’s most vulnerable people. One person sleeping rough on the streets of Melbourne is one too many,’ the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

‘We know that homelessness has no boundaries and this joint count means we now have a picture of homelessness across inner Melbourne like never before.

‘Homelessness is a complex issue and good data like the StreetCount helps us continually evolve our approach. Ultimately, the solution is to get people into housing but pathways out of homelessness require a case by case solution.’

‘One person sleeping rough on the streets of Melbourne is one too many.’

This is not the first StreetCount for the City of Melbourne. We have undertaken a biennial count since 2008 and, since 2014, with support from housing and homelessness agency Launch Housing.

In 2016, we recorded 247 rough sleepers in areas totalling 20 per cent of our municipality. This year, 210 rough sleepers were counted in the same area, representing a 15 per cent decrease.

Heather Holst, Acting CEO of Launch Housing, said the StreetCount results demonstrate the dire need for more affordable housing both in Victoria and Australia-wide.

‘Rough sleeping is the most visible and confronting type of homelessness, but only represents a small percentage of all those experiencing homelessness,’ Heather said.

‘Launch Housing is proud to collaborate with the five councils, police and other support services in Melbourne for this first multi-council StreetCount.

‘The numbers give us something to work with as we plan for the future. Some efforts are already starting to pay off, but we need more housing.’

KEY RESULTS

•  78 per cent of those surveyed were male, and 22 per cent were female

•  54 per cent were aged 26 to 40, with 34 per cent aged 41 to 60

•  79 per cent were Australian-born

•  14 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

•  35 per cent were sleeping on the street, 13 per cent in parks and 48 per cent in various other locations including river banks

•  42 per cent were on the public housing waiting list

•  14 per cent had been transient for more than five years.

For more information, visit homelessness.