FREMANTLE’S homeless have spent an average of five years on the streets, according to recent Registry Week surveys.
More than 100 homeless people were found staying in crisis accommodation or sleeping rough on the streets during the event, run late last month by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre with the help of housing and homelessness not-for-profit RUAH Community Services.
Ninety-one people agreed to be surveyed and the results are confronting. They showed that the average time families spent homeless was three years and seven months. For individuals, the figure was even higher: more than five years.
St Patrick’s will use the results to help them tailor their services and give Fremantle’s homeless what they need the most, with housing and support services director Victor Crevatin saying the average time people spent on the streets was “unacceptable”.
“The lack of affordable accommodation is a key contributor. However, homelessness is a complex problem and having appropriate support services in place is also vital to ensuring long-term sustainable solutions,” he said.
“There is an unfortunate misconception amongst some of the public that homeless people contribute to violence on the streets when in actual fact, homeless people are far more likely to be victims of this violence.
“The information we collected is very valuable and we were pleased that the vast majority of people we approached agreed to take part in the survey.
“Obviously, we were concerned by what we found but it is good to have the hard data quantifying the issues that are out there, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence.”
St Patrick’s also reported that out of 68 individuals surveyed, 54 had mental health issues.
WA Association for Mental Health chief executive Rod Astbury said the Fremantle statistics were high, but “sadly not surprising”.
“Inadequate funding for community support services in WA for people experiencing mental health issues result in people being discharged from hospital to unsupported and unstable housing environments,” he said.