Learn more about homelessness

No one should be homeless. Housing is a human right, not a privilege. 

Homelessness is traumatic, dangerous and isolating. It has a devastating impact on someone’s physical and mental health, and how they participate in society.

People experience homelessness for many different reasons, but some of the main causes are a lack of affordable housing, family and domestic violence and poverty.

What is homelessness?

In Australia, homelessness is defined by the experience of being without access to sustainable, safe, permanent, or appropriate housing.

It includes people who are rough sleeping (street homelessness), sleeping in cars, on couches, in overcrowded, crisis and temporary housing. At its core it’s a lack of suitable permanent accommodation. 

Most commonly, people understand homelessness to be rough sleeping or street homelessness but this only represents 7% of all homelessness in Australia.  

The vast majority of homelessness, including in cities like Melbourne, is hidden from view.

Who experiences homelessness?

Over 24,000 Victorians don’t have anywhere to call home on any given night. Another estimated 350,000 are at risk of becoming homeless, struggling to keep a roof over their head. Cost of living pressures and lack of housing supply mean these numbers are likely to continue to climb.
- More than one in five people supported by Victorian homelessness services in are children under the age of 18.  
- Indigenous Australians are over seven times more likely to experience homelessness
- Older women are the fastest growing homelessness cohort. 

What causes homelessness?

The top two reasons that people seek homelessness assistance in Victoria are family and domestic violence and financial difficulties. 

When people lack material resources and support, adverse life events and extreme hardship such as domestic violence, loss of a job, injury, mental ill-health can push people into homelessness as affordable and accessible housing becomes out of reach. 

Can homelessness ever be ended?

Yes, but we need the help and support of caring people like you.

Many people don’t realise that homelessness is solvable. The solutions are known – tried and tested internationally and right here in Melbourne.

One way that you can help is to sign up to the Roughin' it Challenge!

Live with no bed, one bag of belongings and just $10 a day for 24 hours. 

Taking on the Roughin’ It Challenge - with colleagues, friends, family or school mates - is a 24 hour challenge that can spark lifelong positive change. You will experience insights into the challenges of sleep deprivation, hunger and limited possessions. There’ll be surprises along the way – both welcome and not – that open your mind, prompt conversations and build your understanding and compassion for others.

The money you raise will support the Melbourne Zero movement to end homelessness in our city.

The experience will open your eyes to just some of the challenges people experience every day.On any given night, more than 24,000 Victorians are homeless. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We can end homelessness with your help.