Family violence has become the major cause for women being homeless, but it was the housing affordability crisis that was forcing women to sleeping rough, a homeless person’s campaigner has warned.
Council to Homeless Persons the manager of Consumer Programs Ian Gough, the peak body representing people trying to stop homelessness, said homelessness disproportionally impacts women.
“So many young women become homeless because young women are the ones who are most exposed to violence,” Mr Gough said, “they found it’s almost impossible to find a home because of the housing affordability crisis in Australia.”
He said people often have the stereotype of homelessness as rough sleeping, but rough sleeping comprises just 6 per cent of the number of homeless people in Melbourne.
Sharon Mexigan is a mother of two who had experienced more than 13 years of homelessness because of domestic violence.
“I was being bullied by my ex-husband, he used to be a heavy drinker,” Mrs Mexigan said, “he kicked my stomach and hit me in my eyes, so I left with my daughter.”
“Most of homeless women had experiences of domestic violence, that’s the reality,” she added.
The Victorian Government committed $152 million for crisis accommodation last year, acting on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
But this action is unlikely to immediately stop the increasing amount of homeless women. Fortunately, Mrs Mexigan is now living in a permanent house with her family.
“It took me thirteen years to go through,” she said, “I’d contact the service system but they just let me wait, there are so many people on the waiting list, but finally I got a case worker to push my case through because I was pregnant with my younger daughter.”
After years of homeless life, she is now enjoying the freedoms of life.