Homelessness Week 22

Homelessness Week 2022 (Aug 1-7) explore solutions for Housing, Health and Homelessness

New ideas will be explored between housing, health and homelessness during a series of expert discussion events and workshops as part of Homelessness Week 2022.

Homelessness Week aims to develop greater public awareness and understanding of how we can prevent and end homelessness. This national week, co-ordinated by Shelter WA in Western Australia, will explore evidence-based system wide responses with a range of international, national and state experts that will challenge our current thinking around Housing, Health and Homelessness.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said homelessness can result from health-related factors, and can also cause health problems, including poor nutrition, poor dental health, substance abuse and mental ill health.

“People experiencing homelessness also experience significantly higher rates of death, disability, and chronic illness than the general population, which is awful for each person and can lead to people cycling through the Western Australian public health system,” she said.

“People who have experienced homelessness provide valuable insights and knowledge to help others understand the realities of homelessness and the solutions needed to address this issue we face as a society.”

Lived experience advocate Jonathan Shapiera estimates he has cost the public health system around $1million in health procedures after experiencing homelessness.

“Today, seven years after leaving the streets, my son and I still live in supported accommodation. After nearly three years living on the street in a car, we are now regaling the consequence of living rough,” he said.

“The poor conditions of sleeping in the car or on the street have taken their toll on my body medically. The extremely poor nutrition with takeaway almost every night showed as the weight piled on the both of us.

“This year was my fourth major operation, a quad by-pass open heart surgery. Every one of those four operations was considered life-threatening and for me life-changing. Surviving them was not just luck, having the expertise of surgeons from Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Ms Mackenzie said evidence from the University of Western Australia showed it was more cost effective to prevent homelessness, providing housing and wrap around support services than to have people cycle in and out of hospital whilst they are without a home, and as a consequence of being homeless.

“COVID showed us the importance of home to keep everybody healthy and well. By working together Western Australia can prevent and end homelessness with the right type of housing options and access to appropriate wrap around support. This is good, not just for each person but for all of us,” she said.

To review the Homelessness Week program, click here.

 FAST FACTS

  • It is estimated over 9000 people experience homelessness each day in WA
  • Over 4300 people are supported each day in Western Australia by specialist homelessness services
  • People who have experienced homelessness are more likely to have a long-term health condition, a mental health condition or other type of disability.
  • Research shows a $16M annual saving to the Western Australian health system can be achieved by providing stable public housing for people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.
  • At least 56 people who were experiencing homelessness in the metropolitan area lost their lives in 2020.
  • 152 mental health inpatients were unable to be discharged because of a lack of suitable community-based accommodation and/or mental health support services
  • People who experience deteriorating mental health to the point where they experience symptoms of anxiety, depression and mental distress, and who do not access health services are more than twice as likely (58%) to be forced to move from their home within two years, and more than one in three (35%) are likely to experience financial hardship within one year.
  • International evidence suggests that housing instability due to short or insecure housing tenure, forced eviction, or difficulty obtaining a secure place of residence is associated with poor mental health, particularly among women and children.
  • People experiencing homelessness are more susceptible to influenza and respiratory conditions due to other health conditions and the vulnerability of living on the street in poor weather conditions.

 

Media Contact:

Sarah Quinton 0439 439 233 |sarah.quinton@shelterwa.org.au