AN increased number of residents in the western suburbs are facing homelessness, according to UnitingCare West chief executive Susan Ash.
Ms Ash said there was a growing trend of people who were either homeless or on the brink of homelessness because of high unemployment and the present economic climate.
She said despite the western suburbs being an affluent area there were still many people in need of assistance.
“There are two groups of people,” she said. “One group of people who are struggling to stay connected to housing because of a significant change like a redundancy or loss of hours. They might not be homeless, but are at risk of homelessness particularly if they’ve had a lot of debt or if housing costs are more than their income.
“They won’t be visible in the community, they may still live in their home and are trying to hold onto it, but don’t have money for food, clothing and utilities.
“The second group of people are homeless, but stay in the area to be close to their children’s schools, hospitals and to stay connected to where they were living.”
Ruah Centre manager Matt Nichols said more than 15,000 people had visited the Northbridge drop-in centre over the past six months, with three to five new clients each day.
He said the past three years had seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of people visiting the centre for food, to shower or seek medical advice.
“More and more we are seeing people who were living in the western suburbs, especially fly-in-fly-out workers who were earning good money, living in nice homes, but have lost their jobs,” he said.
“Those who are newly homeless and more vulnerable will come into the city for services during the day and tend to go to Subiaco or Shenton Park at night because they feel safer.”
Ms Ash said in the past three months the number of people seeking help in affluent areas had risen.
She said homelessness was a real issue that was affecting people from all walks of life.
“We saw a little bit during the GFC, but we are seeing a growing group of people now and it’s continuing to rise,” she said
“It certainly is getting worse and more is needed to try and help people who are struggling. We have called on the Federal and State Government to fund more homelessness programs.”
National Homelessness Week will run from August 1 to 7.
If you are at risk of homelessness visit www.unitingcarewest.org.au