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Homeless Persons Week

There are more than 105,000 people in Australia who currently don’t have a secure and safe place to live and 44,000 of those will be young people under the age of 25. This equates to 1 in 200 Australians.

In 2013 and 2014, the main reason people reported becoming homeless was investigated and the research found that domestic violence is ranked as the main cause, at 25%, with housing affordability at 16% and financial difficulties at 15%.[1] This debunks what most people consider to be the main reason for homelessness – that people just can’t get a job, with 64% of respondents from another study thinking this would be a solution to the homelessness issue. Whilst a wide held idea, this response fails to recognise the often multiple barriers (health and mental health issues, lack of education, poverty, intergenerational disadvantage or substance abuse) many people face to exit homelessness. It also does not recognise that many people are in employment when they become homeless, and it is the experience of sustained homelessness, that very often causes unemployment. In 2012-13, more than 9,400 people who were experiencing homelessness were also in employment, but many held part-time or casual positions, were underemployed or just not earning enough, and/or the cost of accommodation was too high for them to remain housed.[2]

People experiencing homelessness face violations of a wide range of human rights. Access to safe and secure housing is one of the most basic human rights. However, homelessness is not just about housing. A person who is homeless may be facing violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to privacy, the right to social security, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to vote and many more.

These human rights are protected by a number of international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).[3]

Every person has the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the right to adequate housing (ICESCR, article 11).The right to housing is more than simply a right to shelter. It is a right to have somewhere to live that is adequate.

To further engage in the prevention of homelessness, Just Salvos have put together some resources for use in your local community.

Download the full pack here.

Meeting Resources

  • A congregational prayer is available for download here
  • Video – Left Out: A video that explores how people respond to homelessness. Watch here
  • Video – Vote Home: let's end the housing crisis by 2025. This 6 minute video explains negative gearing and its connected to the housing crisis and homelessness. Watch here
  • Children’s/interactive activity: Musical chairs

How can we judge the poor - and in particular the homeless poor - fairly? Imagine we are playing a game. A children's game of musical chairs. We've all either played it or watched children playing it. We've made the music for it, and stopped and laughed when someone missed the chair. When there are ten chairs and eleven children, the child who first loses out may be the smallest. Or the most diffident. She may be the one who hates to push, or is slow. He may be frightened by the laughter, confused by the music, inattentive. Or it can be just bad luck. But the problem - if it is a problem - is not the extra child.

The problem is the lack of a chair. So it is with homelessness. The problem is the lack of homes.

Barbara D'Arcy See more at: http://www.housingjustice.org.uk/pages/theological-resources.html#sthash.Xj21mTZN.dpuf

 

Practical Responses

  • Go for a prayer walk with members of your church or faith community. Homelessness is not just people sleeping rough; many people experiencing homelessness are sleeping in their cars, in sheds or on friend’s couches. Prayer walk your neighbourhood and ask God to reveal any factors contributing to homelessness (such as poverty, financial strain, family and domestic violence, family breakdown) that are taking place in your community.
  • Continue to educate yourself and challenge any preconceived notions you may hold. Who are the homeless in your neighbourhood? Why are they homeless? Visit Homelessness Australia for more facts on homelessness.
  • Family and domestic violence is a significant contributor to homelessness, and chances are you know someone experiencing domestic violence. Educate yourself regarding the facts of family and domestic violence (FDV) and consider the ways in which you can assist someone experiencing FDV. http://tinyurl.com/qfw33es
  • Hold a food drive; speak to your corps officer or community support services worker regarding what kind of supplies will best meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness in your community. Alternatively, every time you go shopping buy an item specifically to donate and make it a part of your weekly routine. 
  • Sign the Homelessness Happens petition, and ask our politicians to half homelessness by 2025. Sign here

 

Thanks to Alexis Mapleback for her work on this resource pack.



[1]http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/images/publications/policy/Perceptions_of_homelessness_2014.pdf, pg.5

[2]http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/images/publications/policy/Perceptions_of_homelessness_2014.pdf, pg. 8

[3] https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/rights-and-freedoms/projects/housing-homelessness-and-human-rights