Rising homelessness rates shows need for national housing plan

15 Mar 2018

Rising homelessness rates shows need for national housing plan

The continuing rise in rates of homelessness shows the urgent need for a national plan for housing says a Hunter based community housing organisation.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday (March 14) released estimates of the prevalence of homelessness from the 2016 census data.

Compass Housing’s knowledge manager Professor David Adamson OBE said there were 116,427 people classified as being homeless on 2016 Census night, up from 102,439 in 2011. The homeless rate was 50 persons for every 10,000, up 5% from the 48 persons in 2011 and up on the 45 persons in 2006.

Professor Adamson said most of the increase in homelessness between 2011 and 2016 was reflected in people living in severely crowded dwellings, up from 41,370 in 2011 to 51,088 in 2016. Homeless youth (aged 12 to 24) made up 32% of total homeless persons living in severely crowded dwellings. There were more people living in boarding houses too.

He said homelessness was not a choice people made and it is something as a community we should be working towards eliminating..

“There are many reasons why people are homeless, not just a lack of houses,” Professor Adamson said.

This means we need a plan using a combination of evidence based strategies,” he said.

The fact that Australia does not have a national plan for something as fundamental as housing is astounding and one reason why we are seeing more people experiencing homelessness. 

He said the issue is particularly of concern locally with homelessness rate rising by 27% in NSW.  In the Hunter region, the number of people experiencing homelessness rose by 12% from 1559 to 1747.


Other key statistics:

  • Nearly 60% of homeless people in 2016 were aged under 35 years, and 42% of the increase in homelessness was in the 25 to 34 years age group (up 32% to 24,224 homeless people in 2016);
  • The number of homeless persons aged 55 years and above has steadily increased over the past 3 Census, from 12,461 in 2006, to 14,581 in 2011 and 18,625 in 2016 (a 28% increase between 2011 and 2016).
  • The rate of older persons experiencing homelessness has also increased, from 26 persons per 10,000 of the population in 2011 up to 29 in 2016.
  • The male homelessness rate increased to 58 males per 10,000 males enumerated in the 2016 Census, up from 54 in 2011, while the rate for females remained steady at 42 per 10,000 females.

“A roof over your head is fundamental to your health, well-being and your ability to work or contribute to society in pother ways.” 

“We need a comprehensive national plan for housing to address housing affordability and homelessness.”


Media information: Craig Eardley on 0437 477 493. Prof Adamson is available for interview.