Melburnians Agree Homelessness Could Happen To Anyone: Study

Embargoed: Tuesday, 4 August 2020

New research has revealed a high level of empathy for people experiencing homelessness with 76 percent of Melburnians agreeing ‘homelessness could happen to anyone’.

Launch Housing Chief Executive Bevan Warner said the findings were encouraging because they also show that people want action to end homelessness.

“We know we need to mobilise the community to want to end homelessness otherwise it won’t happen. To do that need we challenge this stubborn view that people choose homelessness,” Mr Warner said.

The findings also reveal that Melburnians still have a narrow view of homelessness which doesn’t always match reality.

The findings show Melburnians typically believe someone experiencing homelessness is ‘a single male who through drug abuse, family violence or mental illness has ended up sleeping on the streets,’ Mr Warner said.

“The reality is quite different and we are starting to see a shift since we last tested perceptions in 2016. For example, significantly more Melburnians now realise that factors outside of an individual’s control, such as personal tragedy, lack of opportunity and bad luck also contribute to homelessness,” Mr Warner said.“Of course, structural factors such as insecure work, underemployment and a lack of low cost rental properties also cause homelessness. Whatever peoples’ perceptions, homelessness is solvable but not without more homes and more support.

“Despite low overall awareness of the Victorian Government initiative to move rough sleepers into temporary hotel accommodation, 85 percent of Melburnians say they support this type of response.

“COVID-19 has made solving homelessness an issue of personal relevance to many. Two-thirds of Melburnians agree that the rates of homelessness will impact the safety of all Melburnians and 68 per cent expect rates to rise during the crisis.

“Eight in ten people agreed the coronavirus has shown that ‘one person’s health can have an impact on my health’.

“Economic uncertainty is also being experienced by half of all respondents, whose work hours had either been cut or they had been placed onto the JobKeeper wages supplement. Worry about personal housing and living costs had marginally increased.

“Encouragingly, 58 per cent believe that ending homelessness in Melbourne is possible. The vast majority say it is the responsibility of governments to solve homelessness and eight in ten people say they should be doing more.

“There was also high-level support for basics such as food relief, as well as more affordable and
social housing, and a desire for governments to commit to a national plan to end homelessness.

“Melburnians said that homelessness should be more highly prioritised by Government, with housing and homelessness second only to a desire to prioritise healthcare initiatives.

The research by Forethought for Launch Housing surveyed the views of 1,000 Melburnians over 18 years of age in metropolitan Melbourne.

About Launch Housing
Launch Housing is a Melbourne based, secular and independent community agency whose mission is to end homelessness. It provides high quality housing, support, education and employment services to thousands of people across 14 sites in metropolitan Melbourne.