If there is one thing that we have learnt from the last few weeks, it’s that a home is essential for us to keep safe. ‘Stay home’ has been the mantra that we have all been living by, to avoid becoming unwell or for inadvertently passing on COVID-19 to others.
It has suddenly become clear to us that everyone needs a home. The has been an unprecedented drive by governments and housing and homelessness services across the country to accommodate Rough Sleepers. We know that rough sleeping is unsafe and bad for your health. Apart from the inability to practice hand washing and social distancing, we know that people experiencing long term street homelessness often have poor health and are at great risk of becoming very unwell if they catch the virus.
The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness recently launched a paper, Leaving No-one Behind, A national policy for health equity, housing and homelessness. There is currently a 30 year life expectancy gap for people who sleep rough versus their peers in housing. It is impossible to look after your health when you don’t have a home. Day to day survival is the priority.
While permanent, affordable housing and support is key to ending homelessness, we need a national policy on health equity, housing and homelessness, so that all Australians have equal access to the health care they need to live a fulfilling and healthy life.