More people using homelessness services demonstrates need for new Strategy

A new report released today reveals that there are more than 24,000 people in Western Australia accessing specialist homelessness services each year. 

It also shows that in Western Australia 62.5% of people with a long-term housing need are turned away due to a lack of accommodation, and only 4.5% were actually able to have their long-term housing needs met.

The release of the Specialist Homelessness Services Report 2016-2017 adds considerable weight to Shelter WA’s calls for the State Government to develop an Affordable Housing and Homelessness Strategy to meet the needs of people at risk of and experiencing homeless, including those struggling in the private rental market.

“The main reason people accessing services is due to domestic and family violence, but financial difficulties and housing crisis are increasingly becoming the main reason to access services,” Shelter WA spokesman Stephen Hall said.

“An Affordable Housing and Homelessness strategy needs to have a particular focus on those most vulnerable people including: young people and seniors on low incomes; Aboriginal people and people from different cultural backgrounds; people with disabilities and people with serious and persistent mental health issues.

“Behind the statistics are untold stories about people who should not be living on the streets, in their vehicle, on someone’s couch or in unstable and often unaffordable accommodation without a secure tenancy.

“Safe, secure and affordable housing must be a critical component of the new Strategy.

“Housing influences a whole range of non-housing outcomes, including workforce participation; access to jobs and services; health; social participation, family stability and educational outcomes.

“It also must be recognised that providing adequate social and affordable housing not only makes moral sense it makes economically sense.”

This was reflected in a speech Dr Amanda Stafford, Clinical Lead Homeless Services at Royal Perth Hospital, gave at a Shelter WA Forum in August, 2017. She outlined just how much an individual can cost the health system if they are not provided a home.

“The cost of treating a person experiencing homelessness [at an emergency department] each year (is) $194,000 – ten times the cost of a rental.” said Dr Stafford

“Fixing the affordable housing and homelessness systems will assist with budget repair and deliver better outcome for everytone in the community.” said Stephen Hall.


Media Contact:

0408 426 263 - Stephen Hall, Manager Communications and Engagement, Shelter WA




  • 24,600 people were assisted by specialist homelessness agencies over 2016-17
  • 67 requests for assistance were unable to be met each day
  • 34% of clients noted family and domestic violence as the main reason to seek support
  • 9,600 people experience homelessness each night in WA (according to 2011 Census)
  • The full report on Specialist Homelessness Services is available here.