The most common Homelessness definition identifies three types of homelessness: primary, secondary and tertiary.
While it's true in some cases, in reality, the most common type of homelessness is transitional. Transitional homelessness is “a state of homelessness that's a result of a major life change or catastrophic event”.
This could mean staying with family and friends, sofa surfing, living in unsuitable housing such as squats or in sheds. These people will not be visible in any official figures. This is called 'hidden homeless'.
Poverty. On a global scale, poverty is one of the most significant root causes of homelessness. Stagnant wages, unemployment, and high housing and healthcare costs all play into poverty. Being unable to afford essentials like housing, food, education, and more greatly increases a person's or family's risk.
There are no internationally agreed upon definitions of homelessness, making it difficult to compare levels of homelessness across countries. A majority of people experiencing homelessness long-term in Australia are found in the large cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Older women are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia. On any given night, around 18,600 people aged 55 and above are homeless. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people make up eight percent of older people experiencing homelessness.
The most common Homelessness definition identifies three types of homelessness: primary, secondary and tertiary. Tertiary homelessness is experienced by people staying in accommodation that falls below minimum community standards (e.g. boarding housing and caravan parks).
Unhoused is probably the most popular alternative to the word “homeless.” It's undoubtedly the one I see most often recommended by advocates.
Social isolation and risk of incarceration
Life on the streets can be a demeaning, humiliating and, at times, dehumanizing experience. Clearly, living without material comforts is only one part of the plight. The mental struggle caused by isolation and abuse is often an even more difficult burden to bear.
Homelessness has a number of causes which can be structural or individual in nature. Structural factors include: poverty levels; • unemployment rates; • lack of affordable housing; and • large-scale social policiesiv.
Within the field of psychology, psychological homelessness has been used anecdotally to refer to cognitions and emotions individuals have when they perceive they are not part of their own community or country.
These groups are (1) people living in improvised dwellings – tents – sleepers out, (2) persons in supported accommodation for the homeless, (3) persons staying temporarily with other households, (4) people in boarding houses, (5) people in other temporary lodging, and (6) persons in severely crowded dwellings.
You are homeless if you have no accommodation that you are legally entitled to live in. The accommodation needs to be available for you to live in and it must be reasonable for you to carry on living in it. 'You' not only means you - it includes you and anyone else who normally lives with you.
Causes of homelessness
Homelessness can be caused by poverty, unemployment or by a shortage of affordable housing, or it can be triggered by family breakdown, mental illness, sexual assault, addiction, financial difficulty, gambling or social isolation.
Without a fixed address, someone experiencing homelessness is not able to access financial support through Centrelink.
Across Australia, SHS agencies provide services aimed at prevention and early intervention, crisis and post crisis assistance to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The agencies receive government funding to deliver accommodation-related and personal services.
Night shelters offer a very basic place to stay for people who would otherwise be on the streets. You usually have to share the sleeping space with others. Find out more about night shelters.