‘Hidden’ homeless seek services

Riverview Church senior minister Haydn Nelson, guest Sally Hegotule and volunteer Katrina Houlbrook.
Riverview Church senior minister Haydn Nelson, guest Sally Hegotule and volunteer Katrina Houlbrook.

More than 500 people attended a homeless community connect event at the Church’s East Victoria Park centre last Friday, where several organisations offered free medical and welfare assistance.

Mr Galley said the event was busier than previous years and the pressures of the rising cost of living had creating a ‘new working poor’, with many people who relied on services struggling but not yet homeless.

‘It’s pretty obvious the need is greater this year, there are more family groups and a lot of diversity, people from all backgrounds and ages,’ he said.

‘People who fall on hard times don’t know where to start so a day like this creates awareness of where the services are out there.

‘Often it’s one thing that pushes them over the edge, such as they have to make the decision between paying their power bill or putting food on the table.’

Department for Child Protection and Family Support Armadale assistant district director Jo Hooper said promoting this year’s event had been a great success because services had reached more people within the south east metropolitan corridor of Perth, where a lot of people who required the services provided lived.

Urban Development Institute of Australia national president Julie Katz said only a small minority of people suffering from homelessness were ‘sleeping rough’.

‘The majority are living in temporary accommodation, staying with friends or are living in inadequate or severely overcrowded dwellings,’ Ms Katz said.

‘A lack of adequate and affordable housing is one of the key factors contributing to the plight of these ‘hidden’ homeless.’

Centrecare Director Tony Pietropiccolo said the state budget did not effectively address the increasing lack of affordable housing in WA with changes to the first home owners’ grant, no new money for the national rental affordability scheme or the vulnerable housing fund.

‘All signs indicate that people’s ability to afford a home will deteriorate further in coming years, so it is disappointing that more resources were not included in this budget to address the crisis,’ Mr Pietropiccolo said.

Housing Minister Bill Marmion said the Government had allocated more than $130 million in the state budget to build 500 new affordable houses over the next three years, which would sell for more than $270,000 each.