A number of articles relating to poor trading conditions in the Perth CBD have pointed to - among other reasons - the amount of "vagrancy" and "antisocial behaviour" being exhibited in the city.
Shelter WA has responded to these articles noting a link between business closures and homelessness is tenuous. Concerns raised by store owners that the public are "frightened" to go into the CBD are a community perception. Statistics show that it is people who are homeless and live on the streets who are more likely to be unsafe, not the general public.
Within most of the articles the conclusion was more action needed to be taken on homelessness.
Chief Executive Officer Michelle Mackenzie points out action is being taken on homelessness.
Three years ago a number of leaders/academics within the homelessness sector came together to say enough is enough – we need to end homelessness and not just respond or manage it. In April 2018 the WA Strategy to End Homelessness – a 10-year plan to end homelessness in WA – was launched by the WA Alliance to End Homelessness. This plan provides a ‘blueprint’ to take action and will need commitment from government, business, industry and the community to drive change.
People who are homeless on the streets of the CBD provide a glimpse into the reality that the estimated 9,500 people experiencing homelessness across Western Australia face. Contrary to what people may think, homelessness is not a lifestyle choice. Homelessness is the outcome of a failed housing system. With 14,000 people on the waitlist for social housing, there is not enough social and affordable housing available for people on low and low to moderate incomes. Each day, two out of three requests for assistance through homelessness services, which provide a critical lifeline for people experiencing homelessness are unable to be met.
The galvanising approach of Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness is making a real difference with a collective approach to ending homelessness. Central to this is drawing on the experience of people who have been homelessness to craft solutions. Also using an evidence-based approach to what works to end homelessness. ‘Housing First’ is central to this approach, where rapid provision of stable, long term housing with support and the direct engagement of those experiencing homelessness in all decisions made around housing is the foundation to rebuild a person’s life and ending their homelessness.
It is heartening this week that the capital city Mayors are focussing their effort on homelessness.
In WA, the State Government is developing new 10-year Homelessness Strategy, many local governments are developing homelessness strategies, and there are positive examples of the community sector, working in partnership with industry and government to end homelessness. However increased investment in social and affordable housing and services will be required.
As a society we can do better. There is no reason why people need to be homelessness in the CBD. They are there because as a society we continue to accept that having a home can be an optional extra, a nice-to-have in people’s lives. We know that housing is the foundation for life. We need to shift our thinking. Everybody should have a safe, and affordable place to call home.
Homelessness Week | The Western Australian theme for the week is ‘Home, Safe Home’. Click here to learn more about the theme, the upcoming events, the fundraiser and shareable resources to end homelessness.
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