Our mission is to be the largest supported housing provider in Australia, offering the best onsite care and rehabilitation for our men and women enlivening the spirit of Luke 4:18.
Our vision is “Transformation” and restoring dignity and independence to people who are homeless and/or disadvantaged and at risk of becoming homeless through the provision of short, through to long term accommodation.
Long-term homelessness is a problem in many communities around the world including Australia. On most nights, there are as many as 105,000 homeless people on the streets in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. The homeless include men, women and children of all ages who are trying to find space in shelters to rest and get help.
Not everyone who doesn’t have a home of their own lives on the streets. Some people who are defined as homeless may have shelter or a place where they are staying each and every night. Those who are considered homeless may be staying with other family or friends, they may live in a caravan, they could be staying in an abandoned building or some people may be living in a boarding house.
Even though they have a place to go to every night or a temporary home, the Australian Bureau of Statistics still considers these people homeless. However, there are many others who do not have shelter at night and have trouble finding places to stay. Shelters for the many that are homeless are not always easy to find.
There are many reasons that people find themselves homeless. While some people see the homeless as a burden on society or as lazy people who refuse to help themselves, the fact is that anyone, including you, can find themselves without a place to live if they lose their jobs. Many people live paycheque to paycheque, losing their job would mean finding themselves without the means to pay rent, and they could end up on the street.
The homeless also include people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or who have mental health issues, which makes them incapable of holding a job or taking care of their financial responsibilities. There are places these people can get help, but if they don’t have transportation to get help or to a local homeless shelter, it can be hard for them to get the help they need. In addition, some people resist getting help due to feeling ashamed of being poor and homeless.
Another reason for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. The housing markets in the largest cities in Australia are tight and expensive. Workers who are living on a tight budget or who have low paying jobs may not be able to afford to pay rent in many areas of these cities. They have to live where they can afford it and that often means living in dangerous areas of a city.
While there are local homeless shelters in many cities and towns in Australia, there are not enough to accommodate everyone who needs a place to stay. Only about one in seven people will find space in a homeless shelter to spend the night. In many areas of the country, the rate of people being turned away from shelters is increasing. Sometimes the rate of people being refused shelter, including unaccompanied minors, is as high as 70 percent.
While more homeless shelters are needed in many areas, that isn’t a permanent solution. The price of housing keeps escalating in many areas, making homeownership difficult to manage and rental properties keep getting more expensive as they are becoming more in demand. Another solution is to provide help to people who are in crisis, whether it is financial or from addictions, before they become homeless.
Volunteers are always needed at homeless shelters and agencies who advocate for the homeless. Whether it is serving meals, helping the homeless find housing or donating money to community organizations, there are many opportunities to try to help. People can also help others to maintain their tenancy if they are at risk of losing their homes.
There are organizations that help with counselling for those who may have issues with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions and they help others stay in their homes by helping them learn life skills. They may help someone learn to shop for groceries and cook for themselves to help them save money. The organization also helps people with financial counselling in order to get a handle on their debt so they don’t lose their homes.
Many of these organizations including Sheltered by Grace can use volunteer help, but they can also use financial donations from individuals and businesses. They often operate on a shoestring budget because they may be a part of a church or a social organization. Fundraisers are often held by organizations to find money to continue their efforts to help people who are homeless and to prevent others from becoming a part of the homeless population.
People who want to help can contact organizations in their local community, such as Sheltered by Grace in Waterford. You can help with a donation of money and/or of your time to help prevent others from having to leave their homes and find shelter to keep from living on the streets.
Another way to help is to talk to the homeless and talk to your friends and family members about homelessness. The homeless are not “those people” and you may be surprised to find that you may know someone who doesn’t have a place to live. Many of us are closer to homelessness than you may suspect and learning about the issue can help you learn how to prevent others, or yourself, from becoming homeless.
While the problem may seem insurmountable on the surface, there are many ways to help prevent homelessness and help people get back on their feet so they don’t have to be homeless anymore. Not only will you learn to help others, people you may not know, but also you will learn to help those you do know, perhaps even yourself, from losing their homes. It will take a collective effort from communities, the government and individuals to help end homelessness and see that everyone who wants help can get help.