Kiyan Green has been homeless for two weeks.
He’s been sleeping in empty or abandoned homes in Western Sydney, while he waits for his life to “pick up”.
“It hurts, it really hurts. It just takes time to get accommodation again,” he said.
He finds it hard to describe living on the street after spending years within the justice system.
“Not having a house or a unit, stability … you feel more stable, you feel more content when you have a home.”
Mr Green is part of a recently increasing number of people in New South Wales finding themselves homeless each year.
He said the experience of being homeless is a cycle.
Something as simple as access to electricity could prevent him from finding a safe place to sleep for the night.
“I call TA (temporary accommodation), they say no vacancies, so I got to wait, and then I got to charge my phone, I got to look for a power point to charge my phone. I need that phone to call TA to get accommodation.”
Ronald Liu, 42, hangs out around the same Parramatta street corner during the day.
He is now in temporary accommodation after he struggled “on and off” with homelessness for years.
He said he had mental health issues for years and a recent relationship breakdown saw him on the street for the second time in his life.
He considers himself “lucky”, after being on the street for four or five days before being approved for a place to stay.
“Compared to Kiyan, I’m bloody one thousand times more fortunate,” he said.
“I’m just getting a taste of it sort of speak.”
Services struggle to cope with increase
Last year, more people received specialist homelessness services in 58 of the state’s 128 local government areas compared to the year before, according to a report by Homelessness NSW — a not-for-profit research group.
The report described women and children fleeing domestic violence forced to sleep in a car or a tent because they could not find safe housing.
Analysis based on figures by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed an increased level of homelessness affecting metropolitan Sydney, suburban and rural areas.
The Inner West showed the highest increase with 1,496 receiving help in 2022-23 compared to 1,251 the year before.
It is followed closely by Canterbury-Bankstown, Penrith, Sydney and Wollongong.
The increase means homelessness services are struggling to cope.
“NSW’s housing crisis is putting huge pressure on frontline homelessness services, with many struggling to keep up with rising demand,” Homelessness NSW head Dom Rowe said.
Median wait times for social housing across some parts of the state can be up to five years.
“Right now, one out of every two people seeking help for homelessness in NSW do not receive it because underfunded services are full,” Mr Rowe said.
Homelessness minister Rose Jackson said the hardest hit areas are exactly where the government is focused on increasing access to housing.
“The NSW government, from the very beginning, has acknowledged this crisis is real and we must do everything we can to end homelessness.” Ms Jackson said.
“(We are) determined to confront this challenge.”
She said that includes projects such as creating Homes NSW and fast-tracking the $610 million federal government’s Social Housing Accelerator payment and Housing Australia Future Fund.
Under the Future Fund, 30,000 new homes will be built over five years across Australia, but there is no timeline for when construction will begin.
Mr Rowe said the government’s headed in the right direction, but more is needed.
“We must also urgently build more social and affordable homes,” he said.
“Right now, just one in 20 homes are social housing but we need this to be at least one in 10 by 2050 to slash the 57,000-strong, decade-long waitlist and end NSW’s homelessness crisis.”