Adelaide’s homeless problem extends beyond just rough sleepers on the street

WHEN most people picture a homeless person, they’re thinking of a rough sleeper.

They have an image in their head of someone dishevelled, maybe with a hat out for loose change, or a handwritten sign holding a fragment of their personal story.

In reality, most homeless people are hidden from sight. They are women living in cars, trying to keep their children safely off the streets. Or they might be someone who surfs from couch to couch, struggling from night to night.

Rough sleepers are the hardcore, visible minority. While there are thousands of homeless people in South Australia, rough sleepers probably only number in the hundreds, maybe less.

They slip through the cracks in our systems. They don’t necessarily have contact with the support services who keep statistics.

And they are often treated without sympathy by shopkeepers who want them off their stoops, by people who don’t want to face a beggar, and by authorities who would prefer they didn’t clutter up the city.

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