Shocking facts about Homelessness

Sleeping rough is a reality for many. It is this gripping fear of homelessness and loss of self-belief that often causes deep depression, domestic violence and substance abuse. Once individuals have lost confidence in themselves, families, friends, and government, they end up sleeping rough on the streets, in public buildings or cars.
The effects of these harsh conditions and the breakdown of the family unit lead to:

• extreme humiliation and loss of self-belief,
• alcohol and substance abuse,
• violence,
• starvation,
• child abuse,
• sex slaves and trafficking,
• violent crime,
• self-harm and sometimes ultimately suicide.

We all know somebody who has been through a traumatic experience of loss of regular income caused by job redundancy, business collapse, sickness, mental health etc. Couple this with no financial reserves, a domestic break up or no welfare benefits then Homelessness quickly becomes a reality.

Hundreds of millions of people are caught up in this cycle and are suffering in silence at any given point in time. Some are fortunate to receive help to bounce back, but many do not. The Salvation Army told us that tens of thousands of Australian men are destitute living in their cars and cannot provide for their families.

The following infographic explains the ten causes of Homelessness

One Light Charity infographic explaing the ten causes of homelessness

Boarding houses are atrocious.

Homelessness causes deep depression and is the grim reality for too many people. Sleeping rough or in boarding houses, coupled with a culture of drugs, and domestic violence.
The main problem, there is very little affordable accommodation. The waiting time for a housing commission home could be up to 10 years.

There are boarding houses, but they are appalling places. We have homeless people who rather sleep out under the stars.
The causes and effects of Homelessness are central to our social challenge, the common denominator of our extreme social problems that we must solve. This problem has existed since the beginning of humankind.

Homelessness Australia currently uses statistics from the ABS Census of Housing and Population.

Research articles about Homelessness revealed that in most western countries, like Australia, the homelessness challenge is not a local council responsibility. It is a state-level issue, competing for state funds against roads, police, education and hospitals. The state government public housing departments do not have sufficient budget to meet the demands for temporary shelter.

Statistics revealed:

  1. Despite popular belief, children are one of the largest groups of Australians experiencing Homelessness.
  2. There had been a 28% increase in Australians 55+ experiencing Homelessness. They are a rapidly growing age bracket.
  3. According to the ABS 2016 census, Homelessness has grown 13,7% in 5 years
  4. Rough sleepers represent only 7% of all Homelessness nationally. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Where are people staying?

• Improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out
• Supported accommodation for the homeless
• Staying temporarily with other households
• Boarding houses
• Other temporary lodgings
• “Severely” overcrowded dwellings

The fear of homelessness causes:

Addiction and mental health issues

Rough-sleepers suffer from low self-esteem and hopelessness. You have people who have significant mental health issues, and then there is the addiction problem.

The most common of these are the major mental illnesses, especially chronic schizophrenia. As mentally ill people’s disabilities worsen. Their ability to cope with their surroundings becomes severely strained. In the absence of appropriate treatment and supportive alternative housing arrangements, many wind up on the streets.

Another contemporary example of illness leading to Homelessness is AIDS. As the disease progresses and leads to repeated and more severe bouts with opportunistic infections, the individual becomes unable to work and may be unable to afford to continue paying rent.

Other health problems contributing to Homelessness include:

1. alcoholism and drug dependence
2. disabling conditions that cause a person to become unemployed
3. major illnesses that result in massive health care expenses

Domestic violence

We came across this sombre story from a recent journal article on Homelessness
Recently a homeless man accused of murdering his nine-month-old baby was remanded in custody after an initial court hearing. His partner, the mother of the baby, was known to have lived in makeshift camps and parks between Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast. The mother has been released from custody and put in the mental health system in Queensland. The toddler is in foster care.
Nearby residents complained to the local council of the baby’s crying every morning, and still, nothing was done to help the vulnerable and impoverished family.
The mother was desperate for housing. But the situation on the coast is dire. Affordable housing is pretty much prohibitive.

Impact on children

Homelessness can affect children in different ways. Children don’t necessarily see Homelessness as whether they have a house, but rather the level of connectedness to family. They experience the presence of fear and feelings of instability and insecurity.

Homelessness means missing out on many of the things that other kids take for granted. To have the opportunity of inviting a friend over to your house after school is impossible if you don’t have one.

Homelessness may mean missing out on school excursions and new uniforms. It can become increasingly challenging to stay engaged in education.


Experiencing Homelessness has an impact on both the physical and mental health of children.
Children experiencing homelessness experience an increased possibility of:
• Ear infections
• Developmental delays
• Nutritional deficits
• Asthma
• Infectious illness
• Emergency room use and hospitalisation
• Dental problems
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Abdominal pain
• Anxiety and depression
• Behavioural issues
• Low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Also, children who are experiencing Homelessness have been found to have less access to health services due to increased mobility, lack of transport and financial difficulties.
Immunisation among children who are experiencing Homelessness is low and leads to increased risk of infection and diseases.


Children experiencing Homelessness lack the stability and support necessary to succeed academically. In addition to academic impacts, disruptions to a child’s education threaten their social and emotional development. Chronic absenteeism can play a significant role in homeless children quickly falling behind one grade or more. Due to the transience of homeless families, children often end up attending several schools.


The cost of housing has a significant impact on poverty. Paying for accommodation is the largest single expenditure item in the household budget for low and moderate-income earners.
Poverty is an underlying cause of Homelessness. The circumstances of poverty that can lead a person to become homeless include:

• having little money,
• debt,
• a lack of education,
• poor mental and physical health,
• disability,
• reliance on public housing,
• living in sub-standard accommodation
• social exclusion.

What is the solution?

The supply of temporary shelter is just the beginning but does not in itself solve the problem. A holistic approach is required:

  • starting with providing the accommodation,
  • coordinated with food providers,
  • op-shops,
  • counselling,
  • skills & recruitment
  • as well as logistics services

Getting the vulnerable back to producing income and providing for their families.

House of Change

The most important outcome is to establish “House of Change” temporary home facilities and services in the community. So that everybody knows there is a caring place of refuge where you receive real help to change your circumstances. Keep your family unit together, and get you back on track. Only then nobody needs to endure that killer fear of Homelessness.

In the end, it seems that it will need to be the kindness of Business and their philanthropic leaders. Coupled with passionate, not for profit, volunteers will need to step up to solve the significant social challenge of our time. Together the State needs to be lobbied to make available underutilised buildings for temporary shelter.

Team up with a not for profit

To combat and eradicate Homelessness is the most efficient way for big Business to meet their corporate social and sustainable development responsibilities. To team up with a not for profit foundation working in this area is the most worthwhile impact investment any corporation or fund can make in 2019 and beyond.

We made it so easy for you to donate to our Homeless Cause