Growing Wealth, Increasing Homelessness, and More Opportunities to Exercise Our Care to the Homeless
This article examines the paradox of increasing homelessness in Australia during an epoch of continued economic growth and unprecedented individual wealth. Official government statistics show a consistent trend in homelessness rising at a rate higher than population growth. Increasing homelessness takes place alongside increasing government funding for specialist homelessness services, and reduced government funding for social housing. Australia responds to the growing problem of homelessness, especially rough sleeping, with myriad ground up charitable initiatives that soothe the consequences rather than address the underlying causes. The article argues that these charitable responses to homelessness represent opportunities for the giver to exercise their compassion and care toward the homeless. The article shows that Australians design, celebrate and volunteer with responses to homelessness that are counterproductive to efforts to achieve housing justice. The charitable initiatives are embedded within policy failures that drive homelessness, and enabled through direct government funding, taxation policy and the uncritical public acclaim that charity to the homeless enjoys.