On Monday night about 160 volunteers, 20 City staff and 30 peer advisers (people who have been homeless) teamed up to conduct our first Street Count for 2013.
While preliminary results show the number of rough sleepers is down from this time last year (269 from 310 last February), the number is expected to rise this winter as two of the main 'street-to-home' housing initiatives reach capacity.
We urgently need the NSW and Federal governments to provide funding for more accommodation.
Common Ground is now fully tenanted and Platform-70 is almost fully subscribed. There's a real risk that unless new opportunities open up, we'll see street count numbers start to rise again.
The City is doing all it can to support the supply of new affordable housing stock. We have a target to ensure 15 per cent of all homes in the local government area are classified as affordable or social housing by 2030.
Our Affordable Rental Housing Strategy will help provide 3,000 affordable new homes. At least 900 new affordable housing units have been built or are being built as a result of this strategy, including:
- Fifty as part of the Harold Park redevelopment;
- One hundred at Green Square on the former South Sydney Hospital site;
- Over 100 as part of the Common Ground development at Camperdown;
- Seven at the Property Industry Foundation House in Redfern; and
- Around 550 under the City's affordable housing levy scheme which applies to developments in Ultimo, Pyrmont and Green Square.
But we need a commitment from State and Federal governments to ensure everyone has access to a safe and affordable place to live.
Governments must resolve the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and fund long-term programs that demonstrate strong results in the inner city and elsewhere.
The street count helps us track changes in the numbers or people sleeping rough as a way of monitoring the success of inner-city homelessness initiatives, including the City's own programs.
It's also used to advocate the NSW and Federal governments for the necessary resources to ensure that every person experiencing homelessness is able to access a home of their own with support if they need it.
We are the only council in Australia with a dedicated homelessness unit. We also operate the Homeless Persons Information Centre (HPIC), which provides a lifeline to about 160 people each day in desperate need of emergency accommodation.
The HPIC toll-free telephone information and referral service was established in 1984, and operates from 9am-10pm every day.
Last financial year, HPIC received 58,664 calls for assistance. Of those callers, 45,448 related to people who had nowhere to sleep that night and were seeking help to find accommodation.
Most of the calls - 36,879 - came from single people, but 6,192 came from single parents with children.