Most people in the mainstream regard homeless people as either mentally ill, drug or alcohol dependent, or some other such degree of marginalisation. However, there seems to be more and more “average” people joining the ranks of the homeless.
I watched the early news this morning, and saw a story of a woman who, I think, is indicative of the new situations people are facing. This lady had been a police woman, then a flight attendant. She had owned her own home, ands had what many saw as a comfortable life.
However, due to changes in her personal circumstances, she now lives on the streets. This was something I have seen more and more in recent years. In many circumstances, it is because of the sudden rise in interest rates and cost of living (incredibly high in Australia compared to other western countries).
One of the most disturbing trends is the amount of physically disabled people being forced onto the streets. In the wake of the terrible Childers backpackers tragedy of 2000 (15 people were killed), the Queensland government, followed by other state governments, quite rightly introduced new legislation to protect people in such hostels. This included a requirement that disabled access must be provided for disabled residents.
However, many unscrupulous landlords have circumvented this, simply kicking out their disabled tenants, rather than building disabled access. Even many of the new government funded community housing schemes are only including a token number of disability accessible rooms in new projects.
As the competition for the limited number of places becomes more intense, many disabled are finding they have nowhere to go. Just as the rising cost of living is forcing many people into the streets, or substandard housing.