Shelter WA welcomes the announcement from the McGowan Government that they are exploring hotel rooms to accommodate people experiencing homelessness. Western Australians who are experiencing homelessness and especially those that are rough sleeping are at significant risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.
State and National Governments have already taken great measures to try and flatten the curve. People experiencing homelessness are in a very vulnerable situation and we need to do more to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. This step by the Government will help address the fear amongst people on the street and alleviate pressure on the hospital system, but more action is needed now.
Associate Professor Lisa Wood from UWA recently advised that, “20.5% of Homeless Healthcare patients who had an ED presentation or inpatient admission (2017-2019) were recorded in hospital data has having a primary diagnosis of one or more chronic conditions associated with COVID-19 mortality risk i.e. hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease; and chronic respiratory disease.”
People need to be off the streets right now
“We need to get people off the streets now,” said Michelle Mackenzie CEO of Shelter WA. “Homelessness services are essential, and urgent funding and resources, including access to housing, accommodation and support services, are needed to respond to increasing demand to care, protect and prevent the risk of transmission. A trial is fantastic but so much more is needed.”
Over 9,000 Western Australians have no place to call home and 1,000 are rough sleepers. Official advice is to stay home and self-isolate, however this is simply impossible. We need additional solutions for homelessness and housing services across Western Australia.
Decision highlights the need for safe place to live
“The social housing and homelessness sector has been under pressure for years. Everyone has a right to a place to call home, and this is true now more than ever during these exceptional times,” said Michelle.
The step that the McGowan Government has taken highlights the importance of a safe place to live. A checklist has been developed to enable a covid-19 care, protect and prevent approach to assess the suitability of accommodation options and better understand people’s immediate and longer-term needs. Our sector will use this opportunity through a housing first approach to engage with people to develop permanent housing solutions and support beyond this crisis.
Shelter WA is working in partnership with the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Government and the community sector through a COVID-19 Homelessness Taskforce for a suite of urgent initiatives. We need to care for, prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in people experiencing homelessness, and the broader community. Housing and support is a critical line of defence.
Read the release from the Hon Simone McGurk MLA here.
• Over 9,000 people experience homelessness every day
• Over 4,300 people access specialist homelessness services every day.
• Over 14,000 are on the wait list for social housing.
• Over 1,300 people live in boarding houses
• Over 6,000 people live in insecure housing are at risk of homelessness.
• Over 20% of the homeless patients presenting to ED or admitted to hospital have one or more risk factors for COVID- 19.
Michelle Mackenzie CEO & Spokesperson – Shelter WA 0419 931 819 firstname.lastname@example.org
About – Shelter WA: Shelter WA is the independent peak body in Western Australia that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.