Rough sleepers on the rise in Perth as rough weather approaches

New figures from the WA Alliance to End Homelessness reveal the number of rough sleepers identified on Perth’s By Name List surged in March to their highest numbers in almost twelve months.

Using data provided by local homelessness support services, the By Name List update in late April recorded 846 people sleeping rough or experiencing other forms of homelessness across Perth and Fremantle, an increase of 127 people since February. Eighty-six additions to the list were newly identified as experiencing homelessness.

The updated numbers add to Census data released earlier this year, which showed homelessness in WA increased by 114 per cent over a five year period from August 2016 to August 2021.

Shadow Minister for Housing Steve Martin said the By Name List numbers, which were the highest recorded since April 2022, proved the McGowan Labor Government was still failing to progress the delivery of adequate social housing or support for homelessness services.

“No matter whether you’re forced into homelessness or are looking for housing in the private market, Mark McGowan’s housing crisis just goes from bad to worse,” Mr Martin said.

As Perth approaches winter and economic headwinds continue to delay the delivery of new housing stock, Mr Martin said he was concerned about the increase in newly identified homeless people in Perth.

“It’s particularly alarming that two-thirds of the increase to the By Name List are new homelessness clients.

“With rents continuing to increase and vacancies remaining stubbornly low, there is a real risk that the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time will only grow further,” Mr Martin added.

Mr Martin said that it was unacceptable that homelessness was on the rise, given the McGowan Labor Government knew about looming housing supply issues before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mark McGowan’s housing crisis didn’t spring up overnight. The government was warned before the pandemic that Perth and WA were facing low housing construction, and the challenges already being experienced in the homelessness space.

“Industry told them. The community services sector told them. Even the government’s own Housing Industry Forecasting Group told them.

“They might try and blame the pandemic. They might try and blame economic conditions. But the truth is this government knew what was coming and did nothing.

“The end result is that vulnerable Western Australians are paying the price for this government’s years of inaction,” Mr Martin concluded.