SUBURB | Homelessness in Brisbane’s North

Posted on 21/08/2011


There’s an article in my local newspaper about homelessness in Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs. A local community organisation has observed a growing number of people sleeping rough and unable to secure suitable housing. This homelessness manifests in a range of ways including ‘couch surfing’, staying in cars, tents, caravans and backyards, and occupying public spaces. Many of the homeless are women and children. Stories like this sharply make the point that the profile of Brisbane’s surburbs is changing and that there is a growing tide of poverty, unemployment and housing stress in the suburbs. Such environments are not well serviced in proportion to need. Population triggers for social infrastructure do not necessarily reflect need especially as such social stresses pool in some areas. There is also the circumstance of people from inner city areas being ‘moved on’. As I walk around Chermside centre, for example, I recognise people I used to regularly see in the inner city and who lived boarding houses. I’ve note people, including several women, in my locality sleeping in parks and living rough. The social stresses once concentrated and addressed in the inner city have now been cast into the suburbs with little in the way of social capital, social infrastructure and support services to address them. While those issues and retrenchments increase, all I seem to hear from urban planners, economists and designers is how to make cities more liveable and compact to accommodate knowledge workers and professionals.

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