Homelessness a growing problem in Melbourne’s outer north

Homelessness is on the rise in Whittlesea and Hume, with more than 1500 people reporting being homeless in the 2016 Census.

New Census data released earlier this month revealed there are 630 people living in Whittlesea who are homeless, up from 455 people at the previous Census in 2011.

In Hume, 916 reported being homeless, up from 861 in 2011.

The data also shows that more than a third of homeless people in Whittlesea are living in severely crowded accommodation. About 100 people are living in temporary accommodation, 19 live in boarding houses and 232 live in supported accommodation.

Hope Street Youth and Family Services chief executive Donna Bennett said young people were most at risk of homelessness in the northern growth corridor. Ms Bennett said she feared the data was not completely accurate.

“It is very hard to capture a lot of data on young people who are homeless because they tend to couch surf or sleep in cars or parks,” she said.

“They don’t tend to present to mainstream services and agencies. I would say the numbers are far higher.”

Ms Bennett said homelessness had become a growing concern as people struggle with the cost of living, jobs losses and family violence.

She said the area did not have enough affordable private rental properties and social housing.

There are just 10 transitional accommodation beds in Whittlesea, which Ms Bennett said was “absolutely inadequate”.

Hope Street has been working with Whittlesea council to address the problem by developing a proposal for supported accommodation in the municipality.

It is also running a pilot program which works with real estate agents to improve access to private rental properties for young people and young families.