Housing doesn’t just provide mere shelter, often a place to call home equals safety, family, stability mental health and education, which are all factors that create and supplement one’s general wellbeing
Homelessness equates to economic and social disadvantages which affects one’s ability to be in a stable, comfortable environment that supports one’s educational needs.
Statistics from the 2016 Census show that 27,680 young people aged 12-24 were counted as homeless, which makes up 24% of the homeless population.
WHAT IS HOMELESSNESS
Homelessness is hard to define as there isn’t one set definition as to what homelessness means. The following definitions are ways in which we can define and understand what counts as homelessness.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a person as homeless “if they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives and their current living arrangement:is in a dwelling that is inadequate; 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.”
The Specialist Homelessness Services Collection defines someone as homeless “if they are living in either: non-conventional accommodation or sleeping rough (such as living on the street)
short-term or emergency accommodation due to a lack of other options (such as living temporarily with friends and relatives)”(AIHW 2020).
REASONS FOR HOMELESSNESS
It is normal to think of the cost of housing and its expense as a factor of homelessness, but financial difficulties make up only 11% of reported reasons young people between 15-24 need homelessness help (ABS, 2016)
Other reasons for homelessness include the housing crisis and the lack of affordable housing, inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions (this can include overcrowding, unsafe or unusable housing), relationship and family breakdown and sudden life changes such as death or job loss, mental health and domestic violence.
Domestic and Family violence makes up the biggest reason for homelessness in Australia (Australian Human Rights Commission).
Homelessness is a marker of disadvantage and social inclusion (Department of Human Services, 2002), which means opportunities and results that the majority of the population receive and attain are usually not as easy or available to those who have experienced homelessness.
HOUSING AND EDUCATION
Homelessness and a lack of secure housing usually means families and children move around a lot in order to find a permanent and stable home. Constant moving around affects the health of not only adults and creates stress but inhibits children’s performance in education. This performance decrease can be due to lack of financial support, the stress of losing and making friends which can affect a child’s self-esteem, confidence and mental health and may even lead to not being able to stay in school.
Statistics collected by Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) found that of the youth whose education status was known, 3 out of 10 young people presenting alone to the services were enrolled in education (AIHW, 2020). This equates to 29% of SHSC clients.
Housing not only provides a comfortable, secure place to stay, but affordable and accessible housing Habitat for Humanity Australia provides with their programs means families, children and individuals can work less in order to obtain a stable home, which gives them the time to stay enrolled in education. Our mission to empower and provide a safe and decent place to live goes beyond just the home and affects multiple areas of a person’s life.
Children and youth who are homeless or have experienced homelessness tend to have poorer health and lower education than their peers who haven’t experienced homelessness (Mission Australia, 2016). The constant instability creates an environment that heightens stress, affects self-esteem and causes one to fall behind in their studies.
As well as this a stable home that isn’t overcrowded creates a safe environment where an individual can concentrate and better use their resources to study, or not fear their daily circumstances if home life is dangerous.
Having affordable and permanent housing also means the likelihood of moving to poorer schools or remote areas are less likely. Constant movement and moving to areas with less resources affects one’s ability to stay in an educational institution if they feel they don’t have access to or have the support system they need.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY AND OUR PHILOSOPHY ON HOUSING
The reasoning behind homelessness creates long-term effects and habits that can further keep individuals in a cycle of being homeless. Housing provides the foundations of stability that allows one to pursue a worthwhile education that can break this cycle. Not only does housing give access to a safe place, but housing in a populated area, with easy access to the internet will also affect one’s ability to stay in school and concentrate, as technology becomes increasingly more used within the educational system.
A house isn’t just a place to live, it also means a stable, secure place that provides a sense of mental well-being, self-esteem and self-worth that allows an individual to continue bettering and doing well in their life. Research shows a consistent home means less stress and moving around, as a stable home creates an environment where one is more likely to stay in one location and pursue further educational opportunities.
Building and providing sustainable homes to live in builds the future Habitat for Humanity Australia wants to build for every individual, despite their vulnerabilities or circumstances.