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June 08, 2023

Hidden homeless in our community

This article has been transcribed from a media interview.

Interviewer: Emily, we had some recent numbers come out last week saying that the amount of people homeless in this LGA of Tamworth was three. Are you able to talk to me a little bit about that?

Emily: A lot of our homeless population is hidden homelessness. A large proportion of people who are homeless in the Tamworth LGA are couch surfing. So, when we do these street counts, they aren't counted, which is unfortunate.

Interviewer: I know that a lot of people that are homeless tend to hide away as well, in places like under bridges or abandoned buildings. Could you tell me why a lot of people would choose to do that?

Emily: It is mainly just a safety thing. You know, if they're out of sight, out of mind. If they can get into an abandoned house building where no one can see them, that's what they'll tend to do. This is another thing; we can't see them when we do the street counts.

Interviewer: There's a lot of prejudice against people that are homeless. What do you have to say about that?

Emily: Not with the current rental crisis. A lot of people just can't get any property. So, they are forced to live with family and friends in an overcrowding and couch surfing environment -because there's a lack of options for them.

Emily: I guess if you're overcrowding with family or friends, and it's putting their tenancy at risk, they can also become homeless. So instead of the five of you being homeless there is now 10 people homeless.

Emily: There can be a lot of shame in asking for help, as well, from a lot of people that have full time jobs and fallen into this homelessness cycle now, because they can't afford a rental property for themselves.

Interviewer: What's your advice to those people that are in them living conditions?

Emily: Definitely reach out. There's always something we can do to help. If there's nothing we can do at the time, we will try to find something to help you. There is no shame in asking for help. We are not here to judge you due to your situation.

Interviewer: How does it feel as a case worker knowing that there's only so much you can do?

Emily: Look, it definitely can be disheartening some of the time because we are working so hard. We want to see our clients thrive, be safe and achieve their goals.

Emily: Even though it can be disheartening at times, we've just got to keep pushing on because even just a small win is something in someone's life.

For emergency housing assistance, please contact Link 2 Home at 1800 152 152

Alternatively, TFSS can be contacted at 1800 073 388.