In London someone becomes street homeless, for the very first time, 22 times a day – almost one person every two hours.

Homelessness is one of the biggest and most visible – and invisible – urban planning and social issues of our time. This crisis is deepening.

  • More than 8,200 men and women are sleeping rough in Australia every night.
  • On any given day more than 116,000 people across Australia are homeless.
  • Right now in the USA more than 550,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Thousands live in their cars.
  • 1,047 homeless people died in Los Angeles County in 2018 due to heart disease, overdoses, transport related injuries, homicide or suicide.
  • In the UK an accommodation service provider is more likely to turn away, than accept, a young homeless people due to capacity constraints.

Many people are sleeping rough because they have no other choice. Soaring rents, a shortage of affordable housing, casual employment, changing relationships and family disputes are some of the reasons why both men and women experience homelessness for the first time. For some, being homeless is a one-off occurrence. For others, it’s a prolonged experience.

No one is immune. ‘Hidden homelessness’ is rising. Research suggests that even some Queensland teachers are technically homeless, with no permanent address, moving between casual stays in boarding houses, house sitting or couch surfing with family and friends.

Housing is a basic human right.

Many believe it’s unacceptable in 2019 for Australian’s to be homeless. These people aren’t prepared to wait for things to slowly and gradually change. They believe in speed when dealing with and improving other people’s lives. They’re creating change.

  • Non-profit organisation Beddown has just completed a two week trial with Secure Parking which turned an empty Brisbane CBD car park into pop-up accommodation. Beddown helps vulnerable rough sleepers by providing a safe, secure and comfortable place to sleep and a bed to sleep in. This is done by activating and repurposing under-utilised spaces, places commonly used and busy during the day but left vacant or empty at night. The idea is simple. When a city car park empties for the night, volunteers set up inflatable mattresses with bed linen and pillows and catering and a range of service providers; doctors, nurses, dentists and hairdressers arrive to assist.
  • Orange Sky Laundry is a for-purpose organisation offering free laundry, showers and conversation to people experiencing homelessness in Australia. An idea founded in a Brisbane garage by two 20-year-old mates. Orange Sky operates 252 shifts from 27 vehicles in 22 cities every week around Australia. To date, they’ve provided 125,217 loads of washing, 11,889 warm showers and 198,404 hours of genuine non-judgemental conversations.
  • SleepBus provides safe, temporary and comfortable overnight accommodation for those sleeping rough. Each sleepBus – a converted coach – provides 22 secure, climate controlled, individual sleep pods with a lockable door plus under bus luggage storage, pet pods for companion animals, an onboard overnight security person, two toilets and monitored CCTV surveillance. Each sleepBus provides 8,030 safe sleeps per year.

These projects “..does little to solve their problem in the long term…” agued University of Queensland, Associate Professor, Cameron Parsell in the Conversation.

We plan for increasing levels of private vehicle traffic with policies, long-term strategies, strategic planning, business cases and infrastructure funding to ‘bust congestion’ in our cities and regional towns but what about the homeless?

As more and more people, especially women over 50 years of age, find themselves part of the ‘hidden homeless’, roofless or sleeping rough our politicians, policy-makers and urban planners are faced with unchartered and unprecedented challenges. Do they rely on the goodwill of passionate individuals and charities to tackle the homeless epidemic alone? Or, do they urgently take bold action – political leadership and committed funding – firstly undertaking a rough sleeping immersion experience and then by changing the housing systems, increasing the supply of affordable housing, overhauling their budgets and rapidly re-housing homeless people so that everyone who wants one has a place to call home? What do you think?