Homelessness & Disability: a mutually exclusive relationship?

Recently, Homelessness Australia conducted a research survey on the relationship between homelessness and disability. What they found was that one in four Australians with a disability lived below the poverty line. While this could come as a shock for some, there are several troubling societal and political conditions that impact people living with disabilities.

 

A disability is any condition that restricts, limits or impairs a person’s mental, sensory or physical functions. Disabilities can be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease; it may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible. In this way, a person may find themselves in a situation vulnerable to homelessness. The aggregators of this situation include:

 

  • Additional health costs - in Australia, the healthcare system is not yet developed enough to suit the needs of those that require consistent attention - psychiatric, medical or otherwise. Those that need this attention are therefore put at a significant financial disadvantage - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  • The high costs of having to build and maintain personal modifications in the home. Renovation labour and materials are not cheap, and the lack of houses in the current market that cater to the disabled community makes it difficult to find appropriate living spaces for people who may require special assistance.

  • Discrimination faced by people with disabilities in the form of unemployment and social disadvantage; the remnants of a negative stigma that still presents itself in full force today.

 

With a general lower income and higher housing costs, it doesn’t come as a surprise when we see the hard facts laid on the table. Unearthed holds inclusivity as one of our core values, and our work is directly connected with these issues insofar as our aims, which seek to break negative stigmas and create opportunities for every artist, no matter who they are. We all need to see change in the way that disability is perceived and the government’s provision of access to resources that are required for people living with a disability. The question is, what is going to be done about it?

 

References:

Homelessness Australia - http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/sites/homelessnessaus/files/2017-07/Homelessness%20and%20disability_0.pdf

Taj Dutton