NSW Government is the missing piece of the puzzle in Homelessness Crisis

HammondCare has placed NSW’s most vulnerable people at the centre of the NSW election by issuing a ‘refundable’ $5 million challenge to the Premier and Opposition leader.

Chief Executive Dr Stephen Judd has called on both sides of politics to match the commitment to homelessness of their Victorian counterparts and give $5 million to a new home for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

Local and Commonwealth Governments, charities and philanthropists all joined to support HammondCare Darlinghurst, a first-of-its-kind centre offering 24/7 high care for the elderly with complex health needs who are experiencing homelessness, but the NSW Government is missing in action.

  • NSW has more than one-third of Australia’s homeless population, at over 37,000 people.1
  • These numbers are rising rapidly - up 27 per cent in NSW over five years, the only state to see such alarming increases.2
  • There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people over 55 experiencing homelessness, up 83 per cent over 10 years.3 

Leading aged and specialist health care charity, HammondCare, is building the state’s first aged-care centre dedicated to those 55 and over who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and who have high-needs and complex health issues.

Once up and running, it will be supported by existing commonwealth subsidies with no out-of-pocket charges for its disadvantaged residents. It will only cost $20 million to open, but will save the NSW Government up to $16 million over five years. So certain is HammondCare of the benefit and cost savings, that they have promised to pay the $5 million back if it doesn’t save the NSW Government money.

To date, support for the centre has been overwhelmingly positive, yet the NSW Government remains the missing piece of the puzzle.

HammondCare has contributed $10 million to capital costs, St John’s Church Darlinghurst is a partner, City of Sydney Council has given $1.5 million and philanthropic partners, such as Ian Potter Foundation and Snow Foundation are supporting the project. Yet the NSW Government is yet to come on board.

HammondCare Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Judd is exasperated with the Government’s lack of response.

“NSW is the richest state, yet our homeless figures are rising faster than any other. The NSW Government’s bold claim that it will slash homelessness by 2024 will fail if the needs of the ageing population aren’t addressed,” he said.

“The NSW Government has knocked back HammondCare’s request for investment, claiming it won’t support the homelessness project as it isn’t scalable, yet without the funding we can’t scale. It’s a bureaucratic Catch-22.

“We have asked the NSW Government to invest just $5 million into HammondCare Darlinghurst, a project that will house thousands of people into the future and actually save the Government $16 million dollars.

 “The electorate of Sydney has the highest concentration of homeless people in NSW, and we’re expecting to see an increase in those over 55, a rapidly growing group.

“HammondCare Darlinghurst is a step towards solving this.

People without a home and who have complex health and social needs require a permanent place surrounded by the medical, social and psychological support they need,” Dr Judd said.

Meanwhile, Victoria has had great success tackling homelessness with all levels of government and service providers working together.

The Victorian Government has a solid track record investing in projects that produce real results and tackle wicked problems with innovative solutions.

And their homelessness figures haven’t increased, seeing only a 0.5 per cent rise during a five-year period. Comparatively, NSW, has seen a 27 per cent increase in the same time.

“To make real change happen for our most vulnerable citizens, we need the support of Government at all levels,” Dr Judd said.

 

1  https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/NSW%20Homelessness%20by%20SED%20-%20Key%20Statistics.pdf

2  ABS Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2016

 https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/NSW%20Homelessness%20by%20SED%20-%20Key%20Statistics.pdf