A struggle for shelter

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 21 April 2013 | 19.55

Common Ground in Campbell St, Hobart.

TASMANIA'S homelessness services say they are still struggling to meet demand, despite more affordable accommodation being provided and extra effort being made to tackle the problem.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that between the 2006 census and 2011 census, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Tasmania increased from 1145 to 1579.

The majority of homeless Tasmanians live in supported accommodation (480) or are staying temporarily with other households (499).

The remaining are in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out (156), staying in boarding houses (236) or are living in severely crowded dwellings (183).

Shelter Tasmania executive officer Pattie Chugg said the arrival of winter would bring home how many people needed somewhere warm and safe to sleep.

"Homelessness services report there is higher demand for their services than can meet need. There is a real concern for people without a safe and secure home all year round but winter highlights this even more," she said.

While housing stress is still a significant issue, the public housing waiting list in Tasmania is following a downward trend.

The Department of Health and Human Services quarterly performance report for March 2013 shows in the six months to December 31 the number of people housed increased by 6.7 per cent.

It showed that the waiting list at December 31 had decreased 22.8 per cent from the same time last year, to 2163 (2801 at the end of 2011), the decline partly attributed to the addition of 1400 new affordable housing properties.

Category 1 housing applicants, those in greatest need, faced an average wait time of 17 weeks, down from 19 weeks at the end of 2011.

Ms Chugg said a government reform combining public and community housing had helped get people housed.

She said with such strong demand for housing it was surprising that Common Ground mixed housing properties in Hobart were still not fully tenanted.

There are 80 people housed across Common Ground sites in Goulburn and Campbell streets, which provide 97 units between them.


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