Home Research The experience of people without Australian permanent residency accessing emergency accommodation in inner city Sydney
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The experience of people without Australian permanent residency accessing emergency accommodation in inner city Sydney


Analysis Policy Research


A crisis of homelessness has taken place for people without permanent residency (PR) in Australia. Pre-existing barriers to housing assistance and support services have been brought into sharp relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without access to Centrelink entitlements or housing and homelessness support such as Temporary or Crisis Accommodation, many people have fallen into rough sleeping or longer-term homelessness because there is no safety net available to them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Temporary Accommodation program in NSW moved thousands of people rough sleeping into hotel-motels.

The inner-city Sydney homelessness sector became aware of many people without PR were still rough sleeping due to their residency status making them ineligible for housing assistance.

Homelessness sector advocacy and collaboration in inner-city Sydney with the Department of Communities and Justice enabled people without PR access to Emergency Accommodation for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2021.

With the assistance of support services, the Emergency Accommodation program has accommodated and assisted approximately 33 people without PR in inner-city Sydney.

While some people exited due to the short-term nature of the service or because they had higher support needs than the Program was able to provide, many people have stayed in the accommodation. Some people had previously been sleeping rough for 7-9 years and are now accommodated.

However, without exit options into housing, they now face a return to sleeping on the streets when the program ends on 10 January 2022.

This report draws on evidence from interviews with lived experts accommodated in the current Emergency Accommodation program and staff members supporting this cohort. It aims to understand the support needs and best possible exit options to prevent re-entry into homelessness for this vulnerable group of people.

Key recommendations:

  1. No exits into rough sleeping for people currently residing in the inner-city Sydney Emergency Accommodation program.
  2. Funding of a medium-term supported accommodation service with employment and support services.
  3. Exemptions to access social housing including people without work rights or ability to work.
  4. Access to social housing products including private rental subsidies and Temporary Accommodation.
  5. Funding a Housing First model accommodation program for people without permanent residency rough sleeping longer-term or with multiple support needs.
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