Counting Melbourne’s homeless

The City of Melbourne has conducted its third annual street count of homeless people sleeping rough.

To provide the councils with information on homelessness in the city, teams of volunteers visited parks and streets in the CBD, North and West Melbourne and Flagstaff and Fitzroy Gardens on Wednesday to count the number of people sleeping in public spaces.

The teams identified 101 people sleeping rough in the early hours of the morning.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said it was particularly important that the City record data on this category of homelessness, so they could provide the necessary support.

“We understand the count does not account for every single homeless person – our volunteers do not enter squats and other temporary accommodation – but this isn’t what the count is trying to do,” he said.

“Instead the people we count are those who are physically sleeping in streets, doorways and park benches, and these are the people who are quite often hardest to reach.”

In 2009, 75 people were counted and in 2008, 112 were recorded.

Cr Doyle said it was unlikely that homelessness was increasing in Melbourne, as there were many factors influencing the number of people sleeping on the streets on a given night, such as cold winter conditions.

“I would hope by the end of this Council’s term to be able to say that no person need sleep rough in Melbourne,” he said.

The count findings will be compiled into a report and released to relevant stakeholders.

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