THE news that the number homeless people seeking help from West Coast Youth Community Services has tripled in the last financial year is shocking but should it really come as a surprise?
No one is immune to the pressure of rising costs of living and that, combined with the stagnation of wages, it is little wonder more people are doing it tough.
However, as WCYCS chief executive officer Jo Clarke alluded to in today's article ‘Homelessness Triples,’ an increase in the amount of homelessness in a population points to a variety of problems within a community and society.
And as she says in today’s story, the personal situations of those sleeping rough are getting more and more complex; often involving mental health, family violence as well as drug and alcohol addiction.
Yet there seems to be a lack of movement on the issue from the government to get to the root of homelessness which means support services are in many ways only able to treat the symptoms.
Attention must also be given to the noticeable increase of young women seeking help, many of whom are escaping domestic and sexual violence from abusive families and then find themselves with nowhere to go.
Even with all the White Ribbon campaigns and awareness, the sheer fact that the most well known demographic of homeless, single men, is being overtaken by young people and specifically women is an alarming statistic.
It is hard to know what the solution to homelessness is – though the staff at WCYCS probably have a few ideas – but it is clear something needs to be done.
The rental market is a competitive market, even for those with spotless rental histories, so it is little wonder the homeless are being effectively locked out.
Being a multi-faceted problem making a difference on this issue will probably take a similar approach.
But perhaps there should be some sort of subsidy or scheme for property owners who are willing to offer their rentals to people seeking accommodation through support services.
Whatever the solution is, hopefully it is found soon, not only to help those sleeping rough, but to also take some of the pressure off local support services.