Call for action on homeless as public housing shake-up leads to spike in numbers seeking shelter

The loss of inner-city public housing appears to have contributed to a spike in the number of homeless men using overnight shelter in church halls last winter, with demand almost tripling.

Safe Shelter ACT, which provided shelter five nights a week across three church halls last winter, said feedback from guests suggested that many had been couch surfing with public housing residents who have been relocated to suburban sites.

Safe Shelter’s Richard Griffiths said these hidden homeless either could not follow their hosts to the new sites or preferred to be close to the city where there were services such as Safe Shelter.

He said the anecdotal evidence suggested that the scale of homelessness in Canberra was greater than recognised and resources had failed to keep pace with the need, with the Government-funded Samaritan House providing only 12 beds for permanent emergency shelter.

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