COLD REALITY: Suzie Christensen, CEO Anglicare Central Queensland, talks about Homeless Prevention Week and the human right to housing.
COLD REALITY: Suzie Christensen, CEO Anglicare Central Queensland, talks about Homeless Prevention Week and the human right to housing. Chris Ison

Rockhampton homelessness statistics a sobering reminder

HOMELESSNESS continues to be the silent epidemic around the state, with Rockhampton Anglicare reporting over 70 open applications for crisis accommodation.

The organisation only has eight properties available to fill these applications.

As part of Homelessness Prevention Week, which begins today, AnglicareCQ CEO Suzie Christensen said it was a time to remember that housing is a basic human right.

"It's asking people to reflect on, and put themselves in, other people's shoes and seeing what else is going on in someone's life," she said.

"We tend to judge people's circumstances without understanding those circumstances.

"There are situations that force people to be in unsafe and unstable accommodation."

Figures from Homelessness Australia show that on any given night, one in 200 Australians are homeless.

A quarter of those are out in the cold due to domestic and family violence, and 20% because of financial issues.

Ms Christensen said the key to tackling the issue was an expansion of services and funding.

"The availability of crisis accommodation, for example the women's shelter for people escaping family violence; the accommodation just isn't there," she said.

"We certainly would like to see improved policy that would improve affordable housing stock... and more of crisis services for people."

The 2015 Rental Affordability Snapshot highlighted a lack of affordable rental housing in Central Queensland, particularly affecting single-person households.

Of more than 1200 local properties looked at in the Snapshot, none were affordable for singles on Newstart or Youth Allowance, only seven for people on Disability Support Pension, and eight for singles on the Age Pension.

Ms Christensen said as far as the public was concerned, the take home message was one of compassion and empathy.



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