The number of homeless people in the City of Sydney Council area has fallen sharply, a survey conducted by the City has found.
The 2012 winter street count found that 226 people were ‘sleeping rough’ within the Council’s boundaries, compared to 310 people in the summer street count, and 307 last winter.
This winter’s count – taken by 180 volunteers who surveyed Sydney’s streets, parks and public areas from 1am-3am last Monday – was the lowest recorded by any of the semi-annual counts since they began in February 2008.
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said it vindicated the City’s collaborative approach with agencies such as Housing NSW and Bridge Housing.
“These results suggest that the collaborative approach is working,” said Ms Barone.
“While homelessness … should be dealt with by state and federal governments, the City of Sydney is committed to addressing this issue. We do more than any other local government in Australia to tackle homelessness.”
Liz Giles, Manager of the City’s Homelessness Unit, was also upbeat.
“This is great testimony to the hard work of all of those organisations and individuals that are dedicated to this issue,” she said.
But dissent has emerged about the City’s claims, with the street count’s accuracy called into question.
Denis Doherty, Lord Mayoral candidate for the Housing Action for Sydney party, said the methodology was flawed.
“It’s a pretty rough measure,” he said. “It’s difficult to get hard figures but I don’t see any evidence of a decrease. There are makeshift beds all over Sydney. You see homeless people at intersections, in parks, behind statues – everywhere you look.”