Action on homelessness


Homelessness in Hobart

The face of homelessness in Hobart has changed significantly over the past several years. Although it is not a new issue, and specialist services and advocacy groups have been calling for action for many years, homelessness's visibility in the Hobart landscape is more prominent.

Housing stress in Hobart is caused by many factors, including population growth, the rise of the sharing economy and increased demand for student accommodation.

In 2018, the vast majority of people sleeping rough utilised bushland and hidden spaces. In 2021, people are seen sleeping rough in Hobart's parks, doorways, bus shelters and other public places. Street begging has increased.

With more than 120 000 Tasmanians living below the poverty line, lack of affordable housing is the most common reason to seek help (64 per cent of requests).

According to the information provided by specialist services, due to low rate of wage inflation, it is increasingly difficult to buy or rent a house even for Tasmanians with a stable income – more and more working families are reaching out for emergency relief as they can't keep up with rent increases.

Shelter Tasmania have compiled the Guide to Housing and Homelessness Terms fact sheet. This fact sheet is a handy guide to some common terms and jargon used in lutruwita/Tasmania's Housing and Homelessness Sector. This fact sheet is current at September 2021.

Housing Dashboard

The Department of Communities Tasmania has changed the way it reports publicly to improve the clarity of information that is published.

The new report is called the Housing Dashboard and brings together indicators from the previously published Human Services Dashboard and Quarterly Housing Report and includes a range of new indicators detailing the breadth and depth of the housing services that are available.

For up to date information on applications on the Housing Register, the average time to house priority applicants and applications resulting in people being housed, please visit the Housing Dashboard.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness Commitment 2021-23

The City of Hobart's strategic priorities and organisational activities in relation to housing and homelessness have been identified in the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Commitment 2021-23. This Commitment has been developed after extensive community, sector and government consultation and builds on the work delivered by the City through the implementation of the Housing and Homeless Strategy 2016-19.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness Commitment 2021-23

The current Commitment focuses on the priority areas of Participation and Access, Wellbeing and Knowledge, Safety and Resilience, and Planning and Partnerships. These priority areas align with the City’s strategic documents and provide a framework for specific actions.

As well as these priority areas the City has committed to undertaking the roles of Advocating, Communicating, Connecting, Facilitating, Leading, Managing and acting as Planning Authority in order to achieve the actions identified within the Commitment.

The actions identified within the Commitment are focussed on collaboration and cooperation with all levels of government, as well as with the housing and homelessness sector and most importantly, with people who have a lived experience of housing stress or homelessness.

Further action

Additionally, working closely with the not-for-profit sector and the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments, the City of Hobart undertakes a range of actions to address housing affordability and homelessness issues as well as to promote socially mixed communities and housing diversity.

Expand the sections below to find out more.

Do you need emergency housing assistance?

If you require emergency housing assistance or information contact Colony 47's Emergency Support Program by calling 1800 265 669. The Emergency Support Program identifies and provides housing and support options for people who are sleeping rough in Southern Tasmania.

The Greater Hobart Homelessness Alliance

Following the Homelessness Crisis Forum held on 20 June 2019, which included more than 60 stakeholders as well as State and Federal Housing Ministers and Mayors of all Southern Tasmanian Councils, the City of Hobart convened the Greater Hobart Homelessness Alliance.

The Alliance meets on a quarterly basis and seeks to progress a range of short, medium and long-term collaborative projects to provide sustainable housing for every Tasmanian and support to our most vulnerable community members living without a home.

As part of the Alliance's actions, the City has been hosting a number of workshops on best practice in developing solutions to homelessness, inviting input from various organisations nationally. Some of the examples include a workshop presenting the Adelaide Zero project to end homelessness by 2020, input from the Council to Homeless Persons, and a workshop that covered infill housing influences, issues, trends and solutions.

Housing with Dignity Reference Group

In early 2019, the City of Hobart established the Housing with Dignity Reference Group to offer an opportunity to people with a lived experience of homelessness to have a voice and a place to be heard. This Group has played a crucial role of supporting the Council in the developing the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Commitment, being a vital reference point for Council decisions about homelessness, and identifying priorities to advocate and lobby State and Federal Governments.

The group has three priority areas.

Priority Area 1 – Data Information

  • The availability of reliable data with a projection of future social and affordable housing needs over the next five years.

Priority Area 2 – Breaking down the stigma

  • The group agreed to take an active role in sharing their individual stories through a storytelling type project and to change the narrative from a homeless person to "a person without a home". This will involve communicating the broadness and complex nature of this issue and share the different faces, as a worker/mother/older person.
  • The use of media is also seen as a useful tool to break the stigma of what 'homeless' people look like.

Priority Area 3 - Community Housing Models

  • The group agreed that they have a strong interest in looking at opportunities that are being discussed currently to assist in the immediate crisis to see where they can provide tangible support.
  • The group are interested in looking at supported housing models that operate in other states and areas that are successful and could be translated into a Hobart environment.
  • The group also agreed that they need to have a target to work towards to deliver tangible outcomes for people without a home.

Supporting homelessness service providers

Over the past few years, the City of Hobart has developed strong relationships and partnerships with the community sector. Along with a considerable amount of staff time, the City has been providing funding to deliver a number of initiatives.

The City provides an amenities building at the Argyle Street car park. The three-storey amenities are accessible to all members of the community and include toilets, a public shower room and a parenting room with changing, feeding and washroom facilities.

We have also supported the distribution of homelessness survival packs across the city through charities working directly with people experiencing homelessness.

In partnership with Colony 47, the Link Youth Health Service, and Hobart City Mission, the City has funded the provision of lockers for use by homeless people. Curtains for people entering social housing have been distributed and the establishment of phone charge stations in a number of local non-government organisations have been supplied.

The City also supports a number of free food services at Mathers House who share food for people in need. These include Food Not Bombs, Vinnies Feast with Friends and the Kings Diner.

Working with a national organisation called 'Pets In the Park', the City supports a pop-up pet clinic for homeless people or people at risk of homelessness. The clinic provides free microchipping, vaccination, flea and worm treatment and a health check-up, by referral through a housing support worker.

Homelessness Week - previous years

The City of Hobart has been actively participating in Homelessness Week for the past few years. Held nationally a week-long series of events, run across the country during the first full week of August, aim to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face and the action needed to achieve enduring solutions.

In 2018, the City collaborated with the sector to tell stories of young women living in Mara House, a 24-hour supported accommodation service for young women who are homelessness or at risk of homelessness. This audio project has been added onto collecting stories from older people and families living in cramped conditions.

2018 also saw the City working with Hobartians facing homelessness in the development of an art project across the city called "Everyone needs a Home".

Officers worked with UTAS to host a forum during Homelessness Week 2018 in early August in the Town Hall that highlighted that homelessness can happen to anyone.

In 2019 the City hosted the National Launch of Homelessness Week and unveiled a new Soapbox billboard featuring Hobartians Facing Homelessness – 50/50 Art Project. The community-focused art project explores the issues around homelessness using art as a vehicle to connect diverse viewpoints and create collaboration with a result that can be shared, exhibited and foster discussion.

Homelessness Week 2021

Homelessness Week is an annual opportunity for the City, local services and the community to focus on issues impacting the people affected by housing stress and homelessness.

Every year the City organises a number of events, as well as partnering with other organisations to deliver activities that raise awareness, explore solutions and provide resources to address the complexity of issues arising from homelessness.

For a full listing of this year's Homelessness Week events, please visit the upcoming events page.

Homelessness Week 2021 fact sheet
Specialist homelessness services 2019-20 - Tasmania fact sheet

Hobart Helps card

The pocket size Hobart Helps card unfolds to provide the contact details and a map showing city based services that can provide advice, support and assistance with accommodation, food and health and wellbeing needs and issues.

The Hobart Helps card is available from the City of Hobart Customer Service Centre, the Hobart Town Hall, Mathers House and the Youth ARC.

To download a copy of the Hobart Helps card to your mobile device text HOBARTHELPS to 0475 111 222, or visit the Hobart Helps card website.

I Am Somebody

I Am Somebody is a multimedia art project facilitated by the City of Hobart's Housing with Dignity Reference Group, in collaboration with Tasmanian documentary audio and photography artists - Helene Thomas and Andrew Wilson. Through podcasts and images it honours the unique stories of five community members and tells of the impacts living without a home has had on all aspects of their lives.

To listen to the I Am Somebody podcasts and view the project trailer, visit the I Am Somebody page.

About the project

It's 2020. Winter. In Hobart.
We find ourselves in unprecedented times.

In spite of an already desperate need for affordable housing, and now with the invisible threat of COVID-19 as our community bedfellow, we are seeing the rates of homelessness worsen, we are witnessing the gulf of inequality widen, and the scope of those affected by a diabolical storm of circumstances broaden well beyond our mythical idea about 'what homelessness looks like.'

It is safe to say, as in truth it has been for some time, now, it looks like you.
It looks like me.
It looks like 1 life shock, one job loss, one infirmity beyond our control.
You cannot stop yourself becoming homeless if the circumstances are stacked against you, it is not even up to you.
What is up to us, is how we stop each other from this slide into destitution, with smarter, kinder and broader community and government supports, infrastructure and service provision.
A person experiencing homelessness can be anyone, in 2020 in Hobart.
A climate of job loss, COVID19, housing shortage and societal inequity has insured that nobody is immune.

"I am somebody who experiences the trauma, the memory, the absence of that most fundamental thing- a home.
Through no fault of my own I have no foundation, and it's beyond hard.
I get up, get on with it, just like you do, but I deserve more, because I am not a statistic.
I am somebody.

I am somebody you know, who once had what you have, somebody who you love, you worked with, went to school with, married, raised, or raised you, hired you, gave you something once. I did not choose to be where I am, and if there was more housing, better housing, accessible and affordable housing, well, I would be in it. I would be just like you are now.

Talk to me, hear me, see me, value me, respect me, I am somebody.
Somebody who is overlooked, undermined, invisible and that hurts doubly because I have already lost so much.

I won't be invisible.
I demand my dignity, my autonomy.
I am somebody just like you.
Everyone deserves a home.
I am somebody who may be living in limbo, in rental stress, in domestic violence, in poverty triggered by any small change to my circumstances.

This was not my choice. Homelessness is an affliction, not a lifestyle choice.
It is the failure of a system in action.
It is a design failure of our society, a rich society, there is no justification for it.

Just like you, I am not immune to losing my security.
Just like you I am more than my circumstances.
Just like you, I am somebody .

I am somebody with goals, feelings, experiences, someone with stories, with a history, with fears, hopes, skills, wisdom and value.
I am somebody with no home."

I am Somebody.

I Am Somebody aims to honour unique stories and people, and find points of connection between the audience and the participants around issues and ideas of home, and of the impacts of living in a homeless state, on all aspects of one's life.

This exhibition allows space for a lived experience narrative to be heard, and through doing so, breaks conventional norms and stereotyping of what homelessness is portrayed as, what it looks like, and who is affected by it.

It restores the core issue of dignity and autonomy to the discussion and subjects, and quantifies the damage done when we rob people of it through portrayals that are paternalistic, disconnected, or diminish the subjects of homelessness to objects of it.

This project honours these stories, that are diverse, brave and as you may well realise, (with some possible degree of discomfort and challenge)-relatable to your own in some ways.

I am Somebody is a true account, through their own voices and images, of people who make up the Housing with Dignity Reference group, and their journeys in and out of homelessness.

'For people like us, with lived experience of the pointy end of housing inequity, solutions have been largely about us, without us. The voice of lived experience in policy making and community building have long been ignored in favour of top down monologuing about how we never seem to have enough to look after people in ways they need to be looked after. We are sidelined, in spite of effectively being experts in the issue. Solutions to housing inequality must not only filter down from govt, but crucially, must percolate up from the grass roots folks who live this stuff every day, and we formed a committee of lived experience to do this work.

On 18 February 2019, the Hobart City Council approved the establishment of a Housing with Dignity Reference Group; comprising of community members with a lived experience of homelessness or extreme housing stress. 'I am someone', is a record of this place and this time and those surviving through it against all odds, and thriving when given the chance to be housed, securely and with dignity.

It features the stories and portraits of these resilient and active community members and carries with it a reminder, and a warning, you may connect with these people's experience, you may see yourself in the things you share in common. You may realise the uneasy sense of-' There but for the grace of God, go I'. This is what we want, and as a community what we need. We need you to see yourself in our shoes, that if you may fall, and call, 'I am Somebody', there will be someone else there who sees you, hears you and relates to you to help you up. Until homelessness affects none of us, it can affect all of us.

This Homelessness week, if you only stop to reflect on one thing, let it be this bunch of facts - Nobody is immune to homelessness. Stigma derails solutions from the ground up and you likely have bought into some of this 'othering', without realising it.

Homelessness in this climate is very rarely ever a result of lifestyle choice, but a knock on effect from any variety of life shocks; a job loss, an illness, divorce or domestic violence, lease endings, COVID-19, and insecure, overpriced and shrinking rental market.

We must create sustainable, inclusive communities and elevate social mobility for everyone.
As one of the richest countries in the OECD, we could be leaders in this field...

So this is us, the Housing with Dignity Reference Group.

We are all someone, who deserves to live with dignity and housing security.'

Kate Kelly,
Hobartians Facing Homelessness and Housing with Dignity Reference Group.

Anti-poverty Week - previous years

The City partnered with the sector and young people to share issues around poverty, and also raise awareness in the community through art workshops culminating in the installation of street banners designed by young people experiencing homelessness.

The banners were developed through the City's Youth Arts and Recreation Centre and are a very vivid expression of the issues from the perspective of a young person.

Young people expressed that they want:

  • opportunities to learn and work in our community
  • to have homes that allow them to access the services they need
  • housing to be affordable
  • employment opportunities
  • opportunities to express their voice.

Through the City of Hobart's Social Inclusion Strategy, Housing and Homelessness Strategy, Positive Ageing Strategy and Youth Strategy we deliver services that help educate and connect people to the right services.

We work closely with community organisations across a number of areas including emergency relief services, accommodation services, health and educational services, as well as our Community Sector Reference Group, hearing first-hand the problem of poverty in our city.

The banners were in Elizabeth Street Mall and Criterion Street for the week of 13 October – 21 October 2019.

Community Grants Program

The City's Community Grants Program provided support to such initiatives as the Colony 47 Christmas Lunch and Mara House Art Program, art project involving residents at Common Ground, Tassie Mums Emergency Essentials Drive that provides children in emergency situations with essential items such as underwear, socks and toothbrushes to name a few.

Raising awareness about homelessness

The City of Hobart has been an active participant on the Southern Homelessness' Services Group convened by Shelter Tasmania. The group comprises the community housing and homelessness sectors who work together to share common issues, solutions and learnings.

The group also works to raise general community awareness about homelessness, advocate to Government for funding and deliver a wide range of initiatives.

The City has also been involved in the Emergency Relief Sector group, in the Colony 47 Regional Reference Group and is actively participating on the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors working group that is actively working towards a positive change, and National Strategy to address homelessness across the country.