Health and wellbeing

Call for pandemic measures to continue helping homeless off city streets

Temporary accommodation effort introduced last year, including extra funding and support services, should remain.

Street count volunteers outside

The City of Sydney’s latest summer street count found 225 people sleeping rough on Sydney’s inner-city streets, compared to 272 in February last year.

Crisis and temporary accommodation beds were at 81% occupancy, 1% lower than at the same time last year.

More than 110 volunteers took to the streets to carry out the street count in the early hours of Tuesday 22 February. They were joined by 8 of the City of Sydney’s homelessness advisers – volunteers with lived experience of homelessness.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said despite increased effort by the NSW Government during the pandemic, it's clear much more needs to be done.

“When the city went into lockdown, the NSW Government seized the opportunity to house people,” the Lord Mayor said.

“People sleeping rough were rushed into temporary accommodation and many were then supported into longer term housing. Many people who aren’t residents, who usually live without government support, were kept safe in emergency accommodation.

“Despite this increase in investment, we still have over 200 people sleeping on city streets each night. We want the significant funding in housing options and additional support services the government made available during the pandemic to remain, to ensure a roof is available for people who would otherwise be on the streets. If not, we will see this figure climb again.

“We also need much more social and affordable housing in our area and a continued focus on how we can work together to prevent people slipping through the cracks.”

While the NSW Government is responsible for supporting people who are homeless, we were the first local council in Australia to set up a homelessness unit. Every day our public space liaison officers walk the streets to help link people sleeping rough with the services they need. We invest over $1 million each year in specialist homelessness services.

Recent heavy rain makes life even tougher for people sleeping rough and shines a light on the urgent need for housing for all.

Published 14 March 2022

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