Homelessness has many different faces: Anglicare

 Anglicare's Linda Jenkins is on a mission to educate the public about the many faces of homelessness.
Anglicare's Linda Jenkins is on a mission to educate the public about the many faces of homelessness.

ANGLICARE is using National Homelessness Week to remind people homelessness can take many different forms.

Southeast metro services manager Linda Jenkins said many people thought homelessness was limited to sleeping on the streets, but it extended to couch surfing and overcrowding.

“Homelessness has various faces. There’s the example where the person or their family might be living in their car or sleeping rough, but it also has the face of someone who is couch-surfing, depending on friends and family because they don’t have a logistical home,” she said.

“They’re relying on a night here and a night there but they don’t have a home or a proper address which enables them to register for Centrelink benefits and receive mail, somewhere where they can leave belongings.

“Overcrowding is another face, where people share a very small house, they might have to share a bed or a very small bedroom or sleep on the floor on mattresses.”

National Homelessness Week runs until August 13 and Anglicare is one of the many organisations that took part to help raise awareness about the plight of homeless people.

Ms Jenkins said many people did not understand how easy it was for some people to go from a stable life to homelessness.

“We’ve had many stories, of a person or family who may have been doing quite well for themselves, employed, then they lost their job, their mortgage debt spiralled, they became really stressed and it led to conflict,” she said.

“The family separates, parents or partners have to leave the family home and then the house has to be claimed by the bank because they’re not paying their mortgage and in the space of six months find themselves homeless.

“It’s not so far for the average person to fall if they don’t support managing their finance”

Anglicare housing and homelessness practice consultant Sarah Brown said the lack of affordable housing options in Perth did not help the homeless.

“Less than one per cent of the rentals across Perth are deemed affordable to those who are on Newstart or a pension, so more people are being turned away,” she said.

Ms Jenkins said the government needed to continue developing responsive solutions for families under mortgage stress to remain in their own homes and provide flexible and affordable options for people facing homelessness or inadequate housing.

“They need to continue to be responsive and be aware there are families who are unemployed or under-employed and they need additional support to relieve stress so they can remain in their home.”