Social Futures is asking government to consider investing more resources in Byron Bay housing solutions, given new figures show the shire has the highest number of people sleeping rough in New South Wales.
The not-for-profit organisation Social Futures is asking government to consider investing more resources in Byron Bay housing solutions, given new figures show the shire has the highest number of people sleeping rough in New South Wales.
The 2023 street count of rough sleepers recorded 1,623 people in New South Wales compared to 1,207 people last year. In 2023 the City of Sydney had 277 rough sleepers recorded for 2023, while Byron Bay had 300 rough sleepers.
Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said Australia was in the midst of a housing crisis, and regional Australia had not been spared.
“The pandemic saw a great many people move into regional areas and while that trend has slowed, there is still an exodus out of cities, perhaps connected to the rising cost of living.”
“According to these new figures, Northern NSW has 603 people identified as sleeping rough. That compares to 487 for all of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Around one in three rough sleepers were in the NSW Northern Rivers, yet we have less than 5% of the state’s population.”
Mr Davies said other factors contributing to homelessness included the slowing construction of new dwellings.
“There is very limited social housing and emergency accommodation in the Byron Shire, and also little transitional housing used to by people moving from emergency accommodation into social housing.”
“Supports for Byron Bay could include more emergency accommodation, social housing and an outreach service that supports people living rough.
“To address Byron’s burgeoning homeless population more accommodation and housing is needed, and can’t be delivered without the support of government – state and federal.”
Mr Davies said it would also be great if Byron had an outreach program with homeless workers on a bus visiting areas frequented by rough.
“There is a growing need for more resources to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis in Byron Bay.
“I am hopeful that the newly elected NSW State Government and the Federal Government can find resources to tackle the challenges facing of the most vulnerable in our community,” Mr Davies said.
“Byron for a variety of reasons is attracting more and more homeless people in desperate need of support. It makes sense to invest more resources into accommodation options in Byron Bay.”