Coast Shelter executive Mr Laurie Maher said he was not surprised when recently released surveys by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicated an increase by 20% in chronic homelessness.
“This is not surprising,” said Maher. “It confirms what we, at Coast Shelter, know from experience, but it’s good to have research confirm our assessment,” he added. Unfortunately , homelessness has increased significantly over recent years. This is in spite of the efforts of the Specialist Homelessness Services which try to prevent those most at risk of losing their housing, falling into homelessness. Other recent research has indicated that those experiencing homelessness have a much shorter life expectancy than that of the general population. “The fact that chronically homeless people have a life expectancy of more than 30 years less than the general population is quite disturbing,” Maher said. “Coast Shelter has an aspirational vision of ending homelessness on the Central Coast, however, until such times as we have a much greater supply of affordable housing, we can only expect that the problem will get worse,” Maher added. In the past year, Coast Shelter has provided more than 50,000 free meals and more than 50,000 days of crisis accommodation. Maher said that while concern for our fellow citizens is the driving force behind Coast Shelter programs, there are sound economic reasons why we should, as a community, address the issue of homelessness. Research by the Australian Housing and Research Institute found that the average cost of health and justice services for a homeless person is $15,718 per year, compared to the cost of $1,690 per person per year for the general community and the same research estimates that Homelessness Services save the Government $29,450 per homeless person per year. At the same time, this research investigated what homeless people thought about their life and found that 31% said they would be sleeping on the streets, 17% expected to have mental and emotional issues, 11% said they would have health problems, while 10% said that, if they continued to be homeless, they would die.
Media release, 9 Oct 2014