Homelessness is a growing problem in the Northern Rivers and is increasingly cutting across demographic boundaries.
Homelessness is a growing problem in the Northern Rivers and is increasingly cutting across demographic boundaries.

Putting the spotlight on homeless

ON the best guess, about 1000 people somewhere near you have nowhere of their own to live.

This week is National Homeless Persons Week, which attempts to shine a light on what is frequently kept in the dark.

And while the exact number of Northern Rivers residents experiencing homelessness is unknown, the fact homelessness is an issue is much easier to gauge.

“We have enough information to know homelessness is a problem, and that it's a growing problem,” Trish Evans, Northern Rivers Social Development Council homeless research officer said.

On the Northern Rivers, this growing problem is increasingly cutting across demographic boundaries.

“Twenty nine per cent of the homeless population is aged under 18 and 40% are women,” Ms Evans said.

Ms Evans also said 50% of the homeless experience is known as secondary homelessness, which means people might have a bed to sleep in, but it is often temporary and insecure.

As part of National Homeless Persons Week, Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) and Southern Cross University (SCU) students will collaborate on the HOME project.

Residents are encouraged to visit the SCU Art Gallery on Wednesday (noon til 4pm), Thursday (noon til 4pm and 6-8pm), and Friday (6-8pm) to talk about their experience of either housing or homelessness.

Project co-ordinator Charlotte Walker from NORPA said creative projects could play a role in providing solutions to policy issues like homelessness.

“It allows people to think about a situation differently and can bring the community together,” she said.

Meanwhile, a Women's Housing Needs Forum will be held at Lismore City Hall on Thursday from 2pm.

The forum, co-ordinated by SCU researchers Dr Yvonne Hartman and Dr Sandy Darab, will seek to bring together key stakeholders and interested members of the public.

Dr Hartman said that while there are services in place to prevent women from being marginalised regarding housing, better integration of services would be helpful.

"It's about making the issue visible, and getting people to talk to each other in a setting where they can do that,” Dr Hartman said.

Dr Darab said that due to many Northern Rivers women being the primary carer for children, there was an extra need for women to be protected from inadequate housing.

“Women do the bulk of the caring for children, so they need safe and secure housing.”

The researchers said unaffordable housing was one of the major drivers of inadequate housing for women.



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