Melbourne’s housing crisis worse in suburbs than CBD, welfare agencies say

They’re disturbing images in such a wealthy country like Australia — rough sleepers in central Melbourne, camped out in the cold along busy thoroughfares such as Flinders and Swanston streets.

But welfare agencies are warning the homelessness crisis is actually much worse in the suburbs and on the urban fringe.

It’s just not as obvious because people are taking shelter in places such as toilet blocks, bushes and cars.

Hundreds of people are being turned away every day from support services because there is nowhere for them to stay, according to Kate Colvin from the Council to Homeless Persons.

She said private rentals are expensive, shared accommodation is often full, cheap motels are only a short-term fix and the waiting list for public housing is only getting longer.

“Two in three people who are sleeping rough and who come to services for help actually do so in the suburbs or in regional towns, so it’s a massive problem outside of the CBD,” Ms Colvin said.

She is calling for a radical State Government overhaul of suburban and regional support services aimed at ending the cycle of homelessness.

One of those sleeping rough is 45-year-old Terry (not his real name), who began living outdoors about two years ago, after his job and social life unravelled.

He said many others like him were sleeping rough on the Mornington Peninsula.

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