To be safe and strong all people need a place to call home

The WA COVID-19 lockdown has triggered a surge in requests for assistance by people experiencing homelessness, according to the peak housing and homelessness body, Shelter WA and they urge the WA Government to work swiftly with our sector, so nobody is living on the street.

Service providers are being swamped by people who are sleeping rough pleading for accommodation,” Shelter CEO Michelle Mackenzie said today. “They are fearful and want to know ‘How can I lockdown, where do I go – what do I do?’ 

Rough Sleeping

People experiencing homelessness, particularly those who are rough sleeping, are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. There are currently over 400 rough sleepers, living on the streets in the metropolitan region.

“As we know, lockdown requires everybody to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 – but people experiencing homelessness have no home to go,” Ms Mackenzie said.

Homelessness Services

Shelter WA reports Homelessness Services are working collaboratively in partnership with government agencies to support people experiencing homelessness during this period to deliver their services in a safe and healthy way.

“We urge government to build on this response and in partnership with the community sector and people with lived experience provide accommodation and service support for all rough sleepers seeking assistance during the lock down,” Ms Mackenzie said. “And to increase investment into social housing so everybody has a place to call home.”

In 2020 the Hotels for Heart response provided learnings to accommodating people who are homeless. We know what to do and how to respond.

“In 2020 the Hotels for Heart response provided learnings to accommodating people who are homeless. We know what to do and how to respond.” – Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA.

“Government must be congratulated for recent initiatives that provided accommodation and service support for people who were living in local parks, providing the foundation for pathways to a permanent home. The outpouring of community compassion showed this is what we expect from our leaders – when times are tough, we look out for each other. And whilst this might be challenging and difficult at times, we should never give up,” Ms Mackenzie said.

Longer-Term Housing Options

Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia proactively facilitated hundreds and hundreds of rough sleepers to get off the street and fast-tracked funded strategies to then secure longer-term housing options.

“Other jurisdictions have acted. We urgently urge the WA Government to expand recent initiatives and increase investment into social and affordable housing, so nobody is left behind.

“If we are to truly beat this virus and reduce the risk of transmission all Western Australians need a place to call home. A pragmatic and compassionate response is required to keep all West Australians safe and strong. Without a strong and robust social housing system thousands of West Australians will continue to be homelessness. Housing is a health response – safe, permanent social and affordable housing is a social vaccine,” Ms Mackenzie concluded.

About Shelter WA

Shelter WA is the independent peak body in Western Australia that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.

Fast Facts

  • Over 9,000 people experience homelessness every day in WA, including 1000 people who are sleeping rough.
  • Over 420 people are known to be sleeping rough in the Perth and Fremantle regions today.
  • Over 4,100 people access specialist homelessness services every day.
  • Over 15,700 households are on the wait list for social housing, equivalent to at least 30,000 people.
  • There is a shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across Western Australia to meet current need.

– Ends

For media interviews contact Michelle Mackenzie CEO, Shelter WA. T: (08) 9325 6660. M: 0419 931 819

Shelter WA brings together a strong coalition committed to diverse and affordable housing choice for all, with a particular focus on housing for people on very low to moderate incomes and groups that experience housing insecurity. Shelter WA undertakes research, engagement, policy development and strong advocacy to drive solutions to build an effective housing system and alleviate housing-related poverty. Our vision is that all people living in Western Australia have housing that enables them to thrive.