More than 500 people have appealed to Samaritans Taree for help to access emergency accommodation since January, and demand is increasing, according to community services manager Michelle Stocks.
World Homeless Day (October 10) spotlights the issue of homelessness as service providers sound the alarm on the impact of low social housing stock and a lack of affordable housing in the private rental market.
Samaritans Taree last month crunched the numbers of people presenting for help, and the statistics reveal demand is "already up on last year's figures by 273 at the end of August", Ms Stocks said.
Help to access rental accommodation - 868 people; emergency accommodation support - 510 people; homeless with domestic violence being a factor - 259 people.
Women make up 56.9 per cent of the number of people seeking help, however Ms Stocks says "there is a slight increase in men requesting assistance over the last three years." The Samaritans will also be monitoring the age demographics as "there seems to be some increase in the number of people attending who are amongst our ageing population, but this needs to be monitored in the long term."
Social housing wait times in the NN21 Taree zone is five to 10 years for all property types, according to the NSW Government Family and Community Services website. It lists 219 general applicants with nine priority applicants.
Vinnies NSW wants the NSW Government to build an extra 5000 social housing properties per year for the next decade.
'Build Homes, Build Hope' is its campaign and on World Homeless Day, Vinnies CEO Jack de Groot highlighted the need for NSW residents to sign its petition for more social housing at vinnies.org.au/socialhousing
"It's self-evident that more housing will help address the chronic homelessness problem, but this isn't translating into enough concrete action on the ground," Mr de Groot said.
"Social housing accounts for only four per cent of Australian homes, whereas in the United Kingdom it's 16 per cent. We're failing people on low incomes.
"When you take the lack of social housing in consideration with the stagnant rate of income support payments like Newstart, it's next to impossible for people in poverty to get back on their feet. This is leading many people to face homelessness, a situation that is entirely preventable.
"We all want to make a difference when we see people sleeping rough, but sometimes it's hard to know how.
"Here's (the petition) a tangible and immediate way to help - call on the government to build homes and build hope for those who are facing homelessness."
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