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People experiencing homelessness are usually thought of as not having a roof over their head but the reality is much more complex than that.

“When a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement:

  • is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
  • has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
  • does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.”
    Australian Bureau of Statistics

Homelessness comes in many forms and is categorised into primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Primary

This is what most people think of when they think about homelessness. It includes people who are sleeping rough (on the streets or out in the open) and those living in improvised dwellings such as tents, cars, swags or temporary shelters. 

Secondary

People who are constantly on the move fall into this category and can include living in emergency accommodation such as refuges and hotels as well as couch surfing – staying at family or friends’ homes for a few days, usually without their own space. 

Tertiary

Staying in caravan parks or legal and illegal boarding or rooming houses is considered a tertiary form of homelessness as they fall below minimum community standards for living. 

  • Other factors affecting homelessness include –
  • insecure tenure such as not having a lease, being unable to renew a lease or looming eviction
  • living with family or domestic violence
  • severe overcrowding such as nine tenants in a two bedroom apartment
  • staying in a house that has features making it unsafe to live in such as holes in the roof or no running water
  • having no access to private space or no control over space for social activities 

Statistics

Boarding house occupants:

Female – 25.2%

Male – 74.8% 

Sleeping rough:

Female – 32.4%

Male – 67.6% 

Supported accommodation for the homeless:

Female – 51%

Male – 49%