Homelessness: Complex & Perplexing

Post 3 By Alice Stollery

Mapping the Stakeholders of Homelessness

Homelessness is both complex and perplexing, evident in my attempts to map the issue. Unless framing the issue from a particular perspective, it is difficult to grasp just how many actors are involved in the issue. There are a number of different people and groups that are both affected by homelessness and that can affect homelessness and all of them seem to be intertwined with each other. Before completing this mapping exercise, I knew that homelessness was a complex issue with a number of contributing factors, however, I never quite understood just how many stakeholders were involved. Below I have started to map out the issue. First I began by breaking the stake holders down into human and non human and I was surprised to find that there were more non human stakeholders than human.

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Stage 1: Mapping the stakeholders of homelessness. The pink post its represent the Human Stakeholders, while the blue represent the non human stakeholders.

In the stage 2 map below, I have taken the information from above and tried to categorise it and organise the stakeholders into groups which  share the same values, or fall into a similar area of the issue.

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Stage 2: Grouping the human and non human stakeholders into categories or groups that relate to each other.

In the stage 3 map, I have attempted at mapping the power of each stakeholder to work out who I would consider the most and least powerful when it comes to tackling the issue of homelessness. In this map I have simplified the stakeholders into the groups I would consider the key stakeholders.

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Stage 3: Mapping of power within the issue of homelessness

An Image Archive of Homelessness

Could you please help?

Image 1 / A young homeless man sits at the intersection at Town Hall, waiting for a kind stranger to lend him a hand. (Sydney Tafe Media)

We are all guilty of walking straight past a homeless person without so much as a look in their direction. This photograph forces us to pause for a moment and really see them. It is a clear depiction of the invisibility of the homeless and represents the often unnoticed loneliness and suffering they experience. Each day, thousands of people pass by them, distracted by their own lives. While this photograph does not represent the complexity of the issue, it serves as a stark reminder of their suffering. It highlights how society has become desensitised to the plight of the homeless. Although not represented in the photograph, it forces the viewer to question how thousands of people can walk by without helping this man. It raises the issue of stigma and the barriers that stigma and stereotyping are creating in our ability to help those in need. Research into this topic has delved into the issues faced by the homeless, such as lack of access to technology, as well as food insecurity. However this photograph emphasises their plight without delving into any great detail. Why is it that we are more moved by a photograph such as this, than we are seeing the homeless on the street during our daily lives?

The Hidden & Invisible

Image 2 / A life size glass sleeping figure, created as a UK based Art project to raise awareness of the hidden and invisible homeless (Jerram, L)

This sleeping glass figure is a UK based art project that aims to raise awareness of both the invisibility of the homeless as well as the growing number of hidden homeless. The issue of the hidden homeless was something that was touched on in a number of articles that I have read. There are many homeless youth couch surfing or staying with friends or living out of their car. Youth that may not be sleeping rough on the streets but who still do not have a safe and secure place to call home. This art piece draws our attention to those we see on the streets yet take no notice of.. Yet also has a double meaning, representing those we do not see, that sleep on the couches of friends and in the boots of their cars.


Image 3 / Portraits of the homeless that took part in the Acknowledged project, a free exhibition at the State Library, created by Sydney Homeless connect. (Homeless Connect)

Acknowledged was a free exhibition held in 2013 at the State Library in Sydney. It consisted of the many faces of the homeless population, and included both their name and moving story, taking them out of a homeless context and painting them in a new light. The exhibition aims to raise their self esteem, photographing them in a way that changes their  perception of themselves as well as the publics perception of them. This photograph focuses on the people at the centre of the issue, it differs from the sources I have read as it starts at a fundamental level, however, it is also very similar as it aims to break down the stigma that surrounds the homeless.

Who? Where? Why? Homelessness in Sydney

Image 4 / An infographic created by the City of Sydney to visualise and summarise the results of a survey they conducted with 516 rough sleepers. (City of Sydney)

This image is an info graphic that outlines the how’s and why’s of homelessness in Sydney. It states that 516 rough sleepers were surveyed, of which, 82% were male, 17% were female and 1% were transgender. I have not come across statistics like these in my research so far, and I am curious to look into why there is such an imbalance in the sexes. Another interesting fact is the amount of time these people have been homeless, with the average being 5 years and 4 months. When I see a homeless person on the street, I have surprisingly never stopped to think how long they might have been there. Reasons behind their homelessness include; emotional, physical and sexual trauma, mental health issues, substance abuse or a combination of these issues. In terms of income, 100% of them live on less than $400 per week and 13% have no income to speak of.

Do Something for Nothing

Image 5 / Hairdresser Joshua Coombes spreading his ‘Do Something for Nothing’ movement’ by giving haircuts to the homeless. (Xplore Sydney)

This image shows a compassionate approach to the issue. Without prying into their lives or backstories and without truely understanding the nature of their circumstances, this barber helps the homeless to feel better about themselves. It is a simple yet effective approach to the issue and the beginning of the ‘Do something for nothing’ movement. This representation differs from those I have read in text sources as it seems free from bias or agenda and is rather, a genuine act of kindness.

Opposite ends of the Wealth Spectrum

Image 6 / Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull chats to Kent, a homeless Melbourne Man, about the launch of the new Ask Izzy App, the A-Z of homeless help. (SMH)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been photographed here with a Melbourne based homeless man.  The image depicts the two opposite ends of the wealth spectrum, with Turnbull in an expensive suit and shiny shoes crouching down, why Kent is sitting on the pavement in a tracksuit with a McDonalds coffee and unkept hair.

You’ve Crossed Paths with Homelessness

Image 7 / Homeless People share their stories through a dating app called ‘Happn’ (Buzzfeed)

This photograph merges homelessness and technology, exposing the issue through an iphone and a dating app. The dating app Happn is a location based app that notifies you when you have crossed paths with someone who also has the app installed. However, the happn team have now enabled the homeless to share their stories through the platform. When a user passes a homeless person, the app notifies them of their story. It is another example of how people are attempting to break down the barriers between the homeless and the wider public, ridding them of stigma and allowing us all to help those in need.

Youth Homelessness Matters

Image 8 / A Fact sheet on Youth Homelessness (Youth Homelessness Matters)

This Youth Homelessness poster focuses on the statistics surrounding homeless youth in Australia. It states that 42% of the homeless population in Australia are under the age of 25 with 26,000 falling into the 12-25 age bracket. Family violence,  child abuse or family breakdown account for the causes of homelessness in 70% of homeless youth and couch surfing is generally the first stage of homelessness experienced by youth. When compared to text sources, this poster is very general, and focuses on a particular group affected by the issue. It is more of a general overview of the situation and aims to raise awareness of the situation without delving too far into it.

Mapping Jasmine’s Journey

Jasmine's journey
Image 9 / A visual map of a young girls journey through homelessness (Youth Homelessness Matters)

This image is a visual map of a young girls journey into homelessness. It highlights how easily youth can find themselves homeless and counteracts the misconceptions that the wider public may hold around the circumstances of these peoples lives. Homelessness can happen to anyone and all it takes is a number of unfortunate events and lack of support and you could find yourself homeless.

The Couch Project

Image 10 / The Salvation Army’s Couch Project that aims to raise awareness of youth homelessness (Coffs Coast Advocate)

Homelessness is framed in this photograph from a different angle than many textual sources I have read. Without the text overlaid, the viewer may not even recognise this as an image of homelessness. It challenges our pre conceived ideas on the issue as the girl featured in this image does not fit within the stereotype that has become evident through my research. She has a roof over her head, clothing and what we may assume as a safe place to sleep. Yet, she is part of the the youth homelessness statistics included in the fact sheet above.


City of Sydney. 2016, Inner Sydney Registry Week 2015, City of Sydney, viewed 23 August 2016,<http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/community-support/homelessness>.

Jerram, L. 2015, Invisible Homeless, Luke Jerram, viewed 20 August 2016,<http://www.lukejerram.com/invisible-homeless>.

Polak, J. 2016, Do Something for Nothing, Xplore Sydney, viewed 20 August 2016,<http://www.xploresydney.com/do-something-for-nothing/>.

Sainty, L. 2016, Homeless People Are Sharing Their Stories Through A Dating App, Buzzfeed News, viewed 22 August 2016,<https://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/homelessness-happns>.

Sydney Homeless Connect. 2013, Acknowledged: Sydney’s Homeless, Sydney Homeless Connect, viewed 21 August 2016,<http://homelessconnect.force.com/Home>.

Sydney Tafe Media. 2016, Living rough: Winter is coming, Sydney Tafe Media, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.sit.det.nsw.edu.au/sydneytafemedia/2015/05/20/living-rough-homelessness-weather/>.

The Coffs Coast Advocate. 2012, Youth Sleeping Rough, The Coffs Coast Advocate, viewed 21 August 2016,<http://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/youth-sleeping-rough/1434528/>.

Wright, T. 2016, Prime Minister Turnbull meets Kent and spruiks new website for homeless, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 22 August 2016,<http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/prime-minister-turnbull-meets-kent-and-spruiks-new-website-for-homeless-20160129-gmh25m.html>.

Youth Homelessness Matters. 2016, Fact Sheets on Youth Homelessness, Youth Homelessness Matters, viewed 23 August 2016,<http://www.youthhomelessnessmatters.net/resources>.

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