Homelessness crisis sweeps Australia


Last year, National Shelter reported that the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by 50% between 2020 and 2022.

The number of people living in “improvised homes” and “rough sleeping” also increased by 103% over the same period:


The situation worsened in 2023 following the collapse in the nation’s rental vacancy rate and soaring rental inflation.

Rental vacancy rate

Source: CoreLogic

Homelessness advocates around Australia reported that 2023 was the hardest year on record, with many being forced to turn people away owing to a lack of resources.

According to a recent Homelessness Australia survey of 252 workers across frontline and support functions, service providers observed a massive increase in demand for assistance in 2023 amid the worsening housing and cost of living crises across the country.


93% of those surveyed claimed the housing problem had worsened in the last year, while 35% had to turn away people seeking help.

“Homelessness providers are expected to work miracles but the strain is simply unrelenting”, Homelessness Australia chief executive Kate Colvin said.

“Funding, which is already uncertain, is plateauing while demand surges”.


“The status quo is just unsustainable”.

“Often if someone has a car they can sleep in then they won’t get accommodation”, he said.

It is difficult to see how the housing situation will improve in 2024 given Australia’s population is expected to continue growing at an historically high rate at the same time as actual dwelling construction continues to fall.

Dwelling completions versus population change

The inevitable result will be ongoing rental stress, with more Australians being forced to live in share housing or becoming homeless.


It is an inequality disaster in the making exacerbated by the Albanese government’s mass immigration policy.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.