Autumn is here. It may still feel balmy but winter approaches – and yet again our annual Street Count figures for Sydney have been released, painting an increasingly too familiar picture of rising numbers of rough sleepers. An increase of 13% was recorded in the year on year data – despite the huge efforts of workers in NSW and Local Government to address homelessness in our city and state.
More recently the Inner West Council conducted their Street Count and found similar results. The Inner West has the second largest number of registered boarding houses in the Greater Sydney Area, with 275 people staying in boarding houses on the evening of the count and a noticeable increase in the number of people rough sleeping. You can read more about their findings and planning here: 'Homelessness on the rise in the Inner West'
Figures are one thing – the reality of looming winter for those displaced is a much more tangible real life issue. And of course rough sleeping is just one dimension in the story of homelessness: over-crowding, sub-standard housing, transient arrangements and instability all contribute to the stress and trauma of homelessness.
At Milk Crate Theatre we frequently see this lived experience and the anxiety that pervades people’s lives when they can’t count on a place to call home.
Our forthcoming artist development project titled Interim is a case in point. Commissioned by 107 Projects in partnership with Counterpoint Community Services, this project specifically addresses the unknown future facing residents of the Waterloo Estate. Since 2015 the fate of their homes has been uncertain as the bureaucracy over their relocation continues in a seemingly never ending cycle of planning approvals, consultations, unanswered questions and jargon – even in the media to this very day.
Mentor, James Dalton, assists developing artist, Georgina, as she leads local residents through a warm-up activity.
Our open workshop project provides a safe space where local residents of the Waterloo Estate have the opportunity to voice their concerns, emotions and share the predicaments they are facing in their everyday life. This will come to fruition with performances in Redfern on May 1 this year. It will be a timely and pertinent commentary on the human experience of being at risk of homelessness.
'Interim is a great project to be working on with Milk Crate Theatre. The project engages residents of the Waterloo social housing estate to discuss and explore feelings and emotions regarding the redevelopment of their neighbourhood and their home. The redevelopment of Waterloo has been divisive and emotionally tolling for Waterloo residents so it is great that residents can channel their feelings in such an open and accepting environment while having fun at the same time. I cannot wait to see what final piece the developing artists create and the input by residents.'
- Adam Antonelli, Counterpoint Community Services
This is what Milk Crate Theatre does, working to change the story of homelessness from a set of statistics to the true faces of the issues, from the experiences and opinions of the communities and individuals experiencing them.
Homelessness NSW has been calling for the government to seriously support its commitment to reduce homelessness for the past three years, citing initiatives in other parts of the world to put social housing with managed assistance at the forefront of investment as a proven formula to reduce ongoing homelessness for clients supported in this way by up to 90%.