City’s rough sleepers more common in the suburbs – and just tip of the iceberg

Simon Broadbent moved recently. But not too far.

He’s been sleeping rough for two years, mostly on the city streets.

“Me and the tobacconist up there weren’t getting along,” said the 33-year-old, pointing northwards up Elizabeth Street.

It wasn’t hard to get crisis accommodation in Melbourne, Mr Broadbent said. But a few nights in a hotel room or a shelter wouldn’t fix his burning need for a permanent home.

“We need a better housing program,” said Mr Broadbent, who appeared in an Age story in 2004, aged 20. Back then, he had a dream to be a builder – to “put a roof over someone’s head”.

He is still trying to find his own home. “I’m on the waiting list,” he said on Wednesday. But Victoria’s public housing waiting list stands at more than 35,000 people.

A new report makes clear that rough sleepers such as Mr Broadbent are just the most visible tip of the state’s homelessness iceberg.

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