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Homelessness spike matches huge growth in new housing across Macarthur

Brand new housing is sprouting like mushrooms from Edmondson Park in the north to Menangle in the south, Oran Park in the west to Airds and Minto in the east.

Now census data has uncovered that alongside that massive housing growth in the Macarthur region is also a big increase in homelessness.

According to the figures, there was a 44 percent spike between the 2011 and 2016 census in the number of homeless people.

The increase was higher than the NSW state average of 37 percent.

Homeless are defined as people who are couch surfing, live in a car or other vehicle or in a single dwelling of extreme overcrowding.

And according to those who provide services to homeless people, cost of living pressures, lack of affordable housing, family breakdowns and low wage growth are some of the reasons for the spike in homelessness in Macarthur.

Yesterday, representatives of We are Community Inc, Shining Star Foundation and BlueCHP Limited discussed the issue with federal Labor housing and homelessness spokesman Jason Clare and local MP Dr Mike Freelander.

Labor MPs Dr Mike Freelander, left, and Jason Clare, second from right, with representatives of local homelessness service providers in Campbelltown yesterday.

Following its defeat at the May 18 election, the Federal Labor Party is reviewing policies which would help provide affordable and accessible housing.

The MPs asked service providers to tell them what governments can do to improve the situation and what assistance and resources they required to do their job.

“The rapid pace of new development in the Macarthur region is masking Campbelltown’s growing homelessness crisis,” says Dr Freelander.

“While we are one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, it’s concerning that we have growing inequalities and housing issues in the same electorate that has new developments.

“Despite all these huge, new housing developments, more people here are couch surfing and sleeping rough.”

Mr Clare said local charities like We Are Community and the Shining Stars Foundation provided outreach services to homeless members of the community but received no government funding, relying entirely on donations from the Macarthur community. 

 “Community organisations are trying to help people with one arm tied behind their back,’’ Mr Clare said.

“Why won’t the government support them?”

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