(Australian Associated Press)
The minister responsible for homeless Australians has bemoaned the fact people are being forced to squeeze into overcrowded properties due to a lack of affordable housing.
The Morrison government is facing pressure to create a national homelessness strategy as experts meet for a three-day summit in Darwin.
In a speech to the national housing conference on Wednesday, Mr Howarth said severe overcrowding was detrimental to people’s quality of life.
Almost half of homeless Australians are cramming into overcrowded housing, with the issue particularly stark in remote communities.
“We also know indigenous Australians are over-represented in homelessness and public housing,” Mr Howarth said.
In the NT, people are 12 times more likely to be without shelter and indigenous Australians make up 80 per cent of the homeless population.
Homelessness campaigner Kate Colvin said the issue also stretched across every state and territory.
In the 15-year period between 2001 and 2016, the portion of homeless people in urban areas soared from 48 to 63 per cent.
Another 800,000 people nationwide are currently considered at risk of becoming homeless as they struggle to meet rental payments.
Investment in social housing infrastructure has slumped to record lows, Ms Colvin said.
State shelter groups are calling for urgent action, a message Mr Howarth said he has heard “loud and clear”.
Housing advocates are calling for 500,000 properties to be dedicated to affordable housing over the next 20 years.
They also suggest the federal government increase rental support payments by $20 per week.