Homeless on the rise in the west

By Alesha Capone

Workers in the field of homelessness say an increasing number of people are sleeping rough in the west.

Northern and Western Homelessness Network representative, Meredith Gorman, said that homelessness was becoming more visible across Melbourne’s suburbs.

“We are now seeing people sleeping rough in areas such as Werribee and Dallas, as well as in the city,” she said.

“As a sector, we know that it is distressing for the community to witness the high level of vulnerability and need that we are seeing on the streets of Melbourne.”

The Northern and Western Homelessness Network is made up of 50 specialist homelessness and family violence organisations.

Ms Gorman said that people sleeping rough “represent the tip of iceberg in terms of homelessness in Melbourne”.

In 2017-18, homelessness services in Melbourne’s north and west provided support to 31,000 households, which were home to more than 6000 children.

In addition, Ms Gorman said that as of March last year, a further 3837 people in the north and west were waiting for “urgent access to housing and homelessness support”.

Ms Gorman said two reasons behind the rise in homelessness across the past two decades included a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.

Speaking in federal Parliament last month, Lalor MP Joanne Ryan said that homelessness was “rife” in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

Ms Ryan said that she recently met with the members of the H3 Wyndham Alliance, which is made up of nine agencies and the Wyndham council, and aims to address housing vulnerability in the municipality.

“We heard stories of families living in cars; of broken lives being put back together,” Ms Ryan said. Homelessness services in the west will host a number of activities for Homelessness Week (August 4-10), including a community barbecue at Uniting Wyndham, 19 Duncans Road, Werribee from noon on Thursday, August 8. Contact Caroline.Carreno@vt.uniting.org for details.