“What some people may not know is that homelessness can be hidden,” Ms Andrews said. “It affects a broad range of the community and it’s not just people living on the streets or in their car. It’s teenagers who are couch surfing and families living together in overcrowded situations.
“It also includes those living in refuges and short term accommodation similar to that offered through the Housing Plus Homelessness Service.”
The 2011 ABS Census revealed that in Orange alone, 346 people were homeless which included those living in temporary lodging, improvised dwellings such as tents, but also crowded dwellings and caravan parks.
“We expect this number, and those across the region, will have increased significantly in next years’ Census,” Ms Andrew said.
Housing Plus has operated in Bathurst, Mudgee, Orange and surrounding districts for the past 30 years, providing crisis, transitional, social and, affordable housing and support services to various vulnerable groups in our community including young person’s unable to live at home for a variety of reasons, and women and children escaping domestic violence.
“One of the major issues of homelessness is insufficient crisis accommodation and support to meet the needs of the homeless and people can be displaced because they need support that often isn’t available in small rural and regional communities. Housing Plus offers services in partnership with other agencies to these areas where possible, but often, people are forced to move their families away from their community to access services.”
“There are numerous reasons why community members may be affected by homelessness, one of which, we are seeing is an increase in cases of domestic violence and there is a serious need for crisis accommodation.”
This Friday, Housing Plus has invited specific State, Federal and Local Government Representatives and non-Government organisations to attend a roundtable discussion regarding the issues of homelessness and domestic violence. Ms Andrew said, “As a community, we have a responsibility to ensure we support those most vulnerable in our community”.