Sleeping rough for a good cause

A small set of essentials for a few days of sleeping rough. Picture: Launch Housing Facebook.
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Melbournians are sleeping rough this week for Launch Housing's Roughin' It Challenge – a community fundraiser aimed at raising awareness around homelessness. Emily Anderson reports.

With just $10 a day, no bed and only a few essentials, Melburnians are sleeping rough for this week’s Roughin’ It Challenge.

Melbourne-based homeless support group Launch Housing will use the proceeds to continue expanding on the programs and housing support services they offer.

Launch Housing support worker Rory, who asked not to use his full name, said he saw the Roughin’ It Challenge as an opportunity to open up a conversation in the broader community about homelessness, an issue highlighted by the pandemic.

“I wanted to get involved as a show of solidarity to sort of, you know, live for a few days without all of those general comforts that I take for granted,” he said.

By doing the Roughin’ It Challenge, we’re experiencing the tiniest per cent of what a person would actually experience when rough sleeping.

Sleeping rough for a good cause
Rory is a housing support worker for Launch Housing and one of many who is taking part in the challenge. Picture: Emily Anderson

Rory said homelessness was often thrown in the “too hard basket”, but the government’s response during the pandemic had offered a glimmer of hope.  

“The fact that people were able to be housed in hotels for nine months, sometimes longer, really does show that there is the ability there to solve homelessness for the majority of people,” he said.

Sleeping rough for a good cause

A study by the Australian Council of Social Services and UNSW Sydney found that by the middle of last year, street homelessness had reduced to residual levels as a result of emergency accommodation programs.

The Rental Housing and Homelessness Impacts—An Initial Analysis, released in February 2021, found state governments could only provide long-term housing solutions for a minority of those who had transitioned to emergency accommodation.

“Less than a third (32 per cent) of the 8000 former rough sleepers who departed emergency accommodation in the six months to 30 September 2020 had been assisted into longer-term tenancies,” the report said.

Haven, Home, Safe’s communications and marketing director Sue Masters said the government needed to step up and play its part in providing long-term housing solutions for rough sleepers.

“Without a massive investment by governments in the supply of more affordable housing, we will eventually see an increase in homelessness because people will not be able to afford to put a roof over their head,” she said.