So what is poverty?
Poverty is about financial disadvantage – not being able to afford the basic necessities of life that provide a minimum standard of living. Living in poverty makes it extremely difficult to participate as a member of the community, whether in education or training, in paid work or socially.
Poverty increases the risk of homelessness. The Australian Homelessness Monitor (The Monitor) revealed that with more 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness on any given night, the causes of homelessness are complex, with no single trigger. Individual, interpersonal, and structural factors all contribute.
Why is poverty a key contributor to homelessness?
The Monitor shows poverty underpins the risk of homelessness by increasing the factors that influence pathways to homelessness. Housing costs can impact poverty levels for low income households, and the turbulent housing market conditions we’ve seen this decade have a stronger and more immediate impact on homelessness rates than other economic trends.
The incidence of income poverty reveals that unemployed and Newstart claimants are most at risk.
Key data from the first Australian Homelessness Monitor:
- More older Australians are experiencing homelessness than ever before. There has been a 28% increase in the number of elderly people who have nowhere to live.
- There has been a 20% increase in the number of people who are sleeping rough.
- Increased housing costs have meant 613,000 people have fallen below the poverty line, almost 229,000 of whom are children.
- Housing prices are increasing as wages have been falling. National property prices have increased by 80% in the last 10 years while median household incomes rose by 40%.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness.
- There was a 22% increase in demand for homelessness services nationwide between 2011 and 2016.
SOURCE: Launch Housing. “How Poverty Impacts Homelessness.” Launch Housing, 15 October 2018.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia