Many of us are familiar with the images of a ‘rough sleeper’ – men and women who live on the street. But most of us are probably unaware that in 2014 only 13% of 351,000 people who had experienced homelessness in the previous 12 months identified as ‘rough sleepers’. “In situations of homelessness, 68% of people had stayed with a relative, 52% with a friend, 13% had slept rough or in an abandoned building, and 7.7% had stayed in a shelter or refuge.” The General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2014, 29/06/2015
The General Social Survey (GSS) also stated that the most common reason for experiencing homelessness is due to family, friend or relationship problems.
Other reasons include financial problems and the tight housing/rental market – highlighted in the Australia's first Rental Affordability Index produced by partners National Shelter, Community Sector Bank and SGS Economics and Planning who found,
"Causes of homelessness are shifting from traditional factors such as escaping abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues and overcrowded housing, to economic factors such as being pushed out of the housing market by those with higher incomes."
It’s too easy to forget that for many in the broader community living near their financial, emotional and relational limits, a stressful episode can easily tip the balance and set ordinary people like you and me onto a pathway toward homelessness – even if only temporary.