Sydney’s homeless population increased more than three times faster than the national rate due to soaring house prices and policy inaction, a landmark study has found.
Homelessness jumped by 48 per cent in Sydney in the five years to 2016, according to the Australian Homelessness Monitor, commissioned by Melbourne-based community organisation Launch Housing.
The report found the increase was overwhelmingly driven by domestic violence and rising housing costs.
Sydney’s stretched housing market exacerbated the problem to an “extreme”, according to lead author UNSW Professor Hal Pawson.
“Rising rents across the board are certainly an issue, but there’s a second part of this which is a bit more subtle to that, which is the disappearance of a low rent component of the private rental market,” Mr Pawson said.
The report noted annual spending on homelessness services increased by 29 per cent across the country in the four years to 2016-17, while investment in new social housing fell by 8 per cent in the same period. Professor Pawson said funding needed to target prevention rather than the cure.
Severe overcrowding in properties increased in Sydney from 2011 to 2016 by 84 per cent. Meanwhile, rough sleeping increased by 28 per cent in the same time.