By: Clare Bruce
You may not see it, but the crisis of homelessness is growing and never far away, with more than 122,000 Australians now homeless every night.
That’s why Mission Australia is urging Christians to dig deep and help make a difference this National Homelessness Week (7th-13th August).
The majority of Australians without a home, in fact 94%, are facing what’s known as hidden homelessness – living transient lives in insecure, uncomfortable and temporary living conditions like a garage, couch surfing, in an overcrowded dwelling, or temporarily in other places. (1)
Their struggle is hidden in plain sight, and many of these people often don’t even see themselves as being homeless, suffering in silence. They may go to work during the day, and go ‘home’ to sleep in their car at night.
The escalating costs of living and rent, the impact of domestic and family violence, mental health concerns and the severe lack of social and affordable housing – are all factors contributing to this emergency.
Every hour, 3,000 people in Australia seek help from homelessness services like those provided by Mission Australia. (2)
That’s 3,000 Australians, all with a unique struggle. Every hour.
‘New Levels of Homelessness We Haven’t Seen Before’
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said the face of homelessness has changed.
“We’re seeing those on the lowest and even moderate incomes increasingly being left without an affordable and secure home to live in,” she said. And just because someone isn’t homeless now, it doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling and on the brink of homelessness.
“As Christians, our role is more important than ever in giving hope to the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Mission Australia’s Executive Chaplaincy & Pastoral Care, Phil Chapman, said that every day, their chaplains, support workers and volunteers are now seeing new levels of homelessness they’ve never seen before.
“We see people going to work every day and clocking off to go to sleep in their cars or imposing on friends for the night, because they cannot afford a rental home,” he said.
“At Mission Australia we walk alongside people and support them to take positive steps forward in life and away from being at risk of homelessness. We exist to build genuine relationships built on compassion, to provide early interventions that are based on evidence, and to sensitively offer God’s love.
“Mission Australia supports some of the most vulnerable people in the nation, those who too often feel alone, abandoned, or forgotten – the same people Jesus went out of his way to speak to and engage with, the same ones He called us to love and care for.”
As Mission Australia works hard to prevent and turn around homelessness with wraparound services, people of faith are being urged to lend their support this Homelessness Week.
1 – ABS (2021) Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness
2 – AIHW (2022) Specialist homelessness services annual report 2021-22
Article supplied with thanks to Christian Media & Arts Australia.