Sydney suburbs become homeless hotspots as rents climb

Jack Gramenz |

Homelessness in NSW is increasing in hotspots where rents are also on the rise.
Homelessness in NSW is increasing in hotspots where rents are also on the rise.

Homelessness is increasing in hotspots where rents are also on the rise, prompting calls for increased funding for support services and more public housing.

Half the people seeking help for homelessness in NSW are not receiving it due to underfunded services, the head of a peak agency for homelessness has warned.

“NSW’s housing crisis is putting huge pressure on frontline homelessness services, with many struggling to keep up with rising demand,” Homelessness NSW CEO Dom Rowe said.

Housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable across the state, driving increasing homelessness in metropolitan Sydney as well as suburban and rural areas, he said.

The Homelessness NSW analysis is based on Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data to December 2023.

Mr Rowe wants increased funding for homelessness services, calling for the state to mirror a 20 per cent increase recently announced in Queensland to push an extra $72 million into services over the next 18 months.

NSW Housing and Homelessness Minister Rose Jackson said the situation needs to change.

“People with safe and secure jobs but not safe and secure housing are increasingly needing homelessness support,” Ms Jackson told AAP.

She said contracts had been extended for service providers to strengthen support for priority applicants, such as women and children fleeing domestic violence, with eligibility expanded as part of a $224 million package investing in homelessness services and social and affordable housing in the current budget.

The government aims to expedite the delivery of new homes through planning reforms, working with the commonwealth and local councils as well as the construction industry, she said.

“We know there is only one way we will address the housing crisis in NSW and that’s through the creation of more housing,” Ms Jackson said.

The largest increase in the number of people receiving help from specialist homelessness support services was in Sydney’s Inner West council area, with an increase of 245, according to the Homelessness NSW analysis.

The median rent there was $679 in September 2023, $99 more than September 2022, according to data from NSW Communities and Justice.

Rental data for the December 2023 quarter has not yet been released.

Canterbury-Bankstown saw an increase of 186 people accessing support services, as median rents climbed $130 to $600 per week.

In remote Walgett in northern NSW, median rents increased 40 per cent to $280 a week, while support service client numbers rose 48 per cent, an increase of 125 people.

The commonwealth should expand eligibility for rent assistance to alleviate financial stress, Everybody’s Home housing campaigners wrote in a pre-budget submission released on Tuesday.

It also called for increased funding for homelessness services to meet a projected growth in demand.

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