Asia Minute: Australia’s Homeless Population Increasing

Aug 8, 2018

Credit Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Hawai‘i remains the state with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country. In Australia, the numbers are nearly as bad—and the situation is getting worse. It’s getting more attention right now because this is National Homelessness Week in Australia.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says 51 of every 10,000 people in Hawai‘i are homeless. Australia’s numbers are now almost exactly the same – 50 homeless people for every 10,000 residents.

Census figures show the overall number of homeless people in Australia grew by 14-percent from 2011 to 2016.

The Australian Associated Press reports that over the same period, federal spending on housing and homelessness fell by 16-percent. Nearly a third of the homeless in Australia are under the age of 25. Some populations are more vulnerable — including immigrants, indigenous people, and the elderly.

Conditions are worse in some of the big cities. The state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located has seen its homeless numbers go up by more than a third between the last two census surveys.

Credit Kgbo / Wikimedia Commons

This is National Homeless Week in Australia — started more than a decade ago when caregiving groups held vigils to remember those who died on the streets.

It’s evolved into an awareness week held in August because that’s winter time in Australia, generally the coldest month of the year, when homeless people are most likely to be overcome by the elements.