Rough sleeping on the rise in Nambucca LGA

THE results of the 2024 NSW Street Count are in, with 20 people counted rough sleeping on the streets of the Nambucca Valley on the night of 22 February.

In 2020, during the inaugural Street Count, zero people were counted sleeping rough in the local government area (LGA), with that number rising sharply to seventeen in 2023.

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In the neighbouring Kempsey LGA, fifteen people were counted this year, up from eleven in 2023.

Of the 75 LGAs counted, Coffs Harbour had the largest total increase in the number of people sleeping rough compared to 2023 data.

The 2024 Street Count identified 147 people sleeping rough in the Coffs Harbour local government area (LGA) on the night of February 21, compared to 82 in 2023, an increase of almost 80 percent.

Elsewhere in the region, 22 people were counted sleeping rough in Bellingen during the 2024 Street Count, down one from 23 in 2023.

Further north, in the Clarence Valley, 58 people were counted in 2024, down by eleven from 69 in 2023.

This year’s event was the fifth annual statewide rough sleeping Street Count.

Statewide, 2,037 people were counted sleeping rough in the 2024 NSW street count, compared to 1,623 people last year – a 26 percent increase.

Street counts took place between 1 February and 1 March 2024, in more than 400 towns and suburbs in 76 LGAs across NSW.

Over 300 local organisations either consulted in the planning phase or participated in the delivery of street counts.

Partners included community housing providers, local councils and specialist homelessness services, as well Aboriginal organisations, local health districts, local community groups, and police.

Across the state, the number of people sleeping rough has continued to rise with regional areas experiencing the biggest surge in homelessness in the past year, while metro Sydney has stabilised.

“While levels of street sleeping have stabilised in Sydney, we are still seeing an unprecedented increase of homelessness in many of our regional towns,” Minister for Homelessness Rose Jackson said.

“We don’t just need data to tell us this – our regional communities are feeling this every day.

“The sobering street count figures again paint a harrowing picture of homelessness and street sleeping across our state.”

Ms Jackson said the NSW Government is “looking at every single option” to tackle the state’s housing and rental crisis.

“This includes our wide-ranging review of Short Term Rental Accommodation rules which we are in the process of finalising very soon.

“We know the current Short Term Rental Accommodation rules are having an impact on homelessness and street sleeping, especially in our regions, which is why we are acting.”

Shadow Minister for Homelessness Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the 2024 Street Count numbers showed the State Government was “failing our most vulnerable”.

“The Minns Government housing and homelessness crisis just keeps getting worse with a record 2,037 people sleeping rough recorded this year, an increase of 414 people since February 2023,” said Mrs Maclaren-Jones.

“As the housing and economic crisis continues to escalate, there is a real risk that more people will experience homelessness for the first time.

“The NSW Labor Government must act now and provide additional funding to support our already stretched homelessness services.”

Mrs Maclaren-Jones is also calling on the Minister for Homelessness to broaden the scope of reporting to encompass all types of homelessness, including nuances like couch surfing and other forms of non-secure housing, which is not captured in the Street Count.

“People are experiencing many types of housing stress, from rough sleeping to couch surfing and living in overcrowded accommodation.

“To effectively address homelessness, we must have accurate and timely data that shows the true extent of homelessness,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

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