A person is considered homeless if they do not have suitable accommodation and their current living arrangement is inadequate with short tenure and no control of and access to space for social relations. You can still be classified as homeless if you are sleeping in a car, cheap motel room, on a friends couch or just sleeping rough in general.
Did you know that according to the 2016 Census, on any given night approximately 116,500 Australians are homeless, with a whopping 27,500 of these being young people between the ages of 12 and 24 years?
But what does a homeless person look like? A new campaign is challenging stereotypes about those who have experienced homelessness. The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) chief executive Jenny Smith says that the ‘My Name is...’ project gives an opportunity to those who have experienced homeless to share their voice and experience. This project makes homelessness a personal journey, raising awareness and hopefully pushing those who are struggling to speak out and get help where they can. Stigma and Discrimination is a major factor affecting homeless youth on a deeper level, so this project is a great step forward in helping to find a solution.
It is a common misconception that young people become homeless by choice although there are a number of causes that can leave a young individual without a safe environment to call home. These include:
• Family conflict or breakdown
• Abuse in the home (sexual, physical and/or emotional)
• Lack of employment and income
• Drug and alcohol issues
• Mental health issues
• And many more causes...
Without the feeling of safety and a place to call home, life can get pretty overwhelming for teens and young people. Whilst struggling with their evolution into adulthood and developing life skills, being homeless is sure to add further pressure onto teens. Struggling with homelessness also puts youth at risk of being a part of violent crime, something no human should have to deal with, let alone a young individual trying to find their feet.
Often, youth who are struggling either don’t know where to go for help or are ashamed to ask for support, which is why there have been a number of organizations put together to help tackle the issue of youth homelessness.
The Salvation Army is one organization that offers help to the homeless. They do more than just offer emergency accommodation, but better yet through their large network of services they aim to help bring people back into society, assisting them to fulfil a valuable role in their community and supporting them every step of the way.
I’ll leave you with a question; Does the government need to do more to provide social housing for long term homeless? Isn’t it ironic that there is so much commercial development and apartments being built, yet it is so unaffordable and unavailable to the homeless sector?