Homelessness services across Tasmania provide accommodation for 661 women and Bethlehem House is among services supporting 920 homeless men, 92 of whom will be sleeping rough and 276-300 will pass through the doors of Bethlehem House.
Who are they and why are they homeless?
1/3 of all homeless men are aged 25-44, on a disability pension, having experienced housing crisis. Many Bethlehem House residents have a common history, having been brought up in care and of institutional and sexual abuse. Their have heart rending stories of their lifelong struggle to come to terms with their history, mistrusting society and authority. Rental prices forces them into lower cost housing in areas where drug dealing is prominent.
Men tend to experience repeat homelessness, battling to overcome mental health issues, alcohol dependency and relationship breakdown. A significant number have turned to drug dependency, gambling and alcohol addiction to escape their problems. These can lead to crime and terms of imprisonment, loss of their former home and increased feelings of helplessness. By the time a man arrives at Bethlehem House, we are the last hope.
Domestic Violence services and relationship counselling
25% of clients seek support because of domestic violence issues. Historically, domestic violence funding has focused on women and children’s services. Bethlehem House complements these initiatives by working with men excluded from the family home, to prevent repeat offending and supporting men who have been victims of domestic violence.
The percentage of people in Tasmania who are homeless and over 65 is low at 7%, however this group represents a significant client group at Bethlehem House. Older homeless men accessing support at Bethlehem House have additional support needs which tend not to be available through existing aged care provision.
Living in a homeless state has serious health consequences and homeless men are likely to suffer prematurely from conditions normally associated with old age. The average age of death for homeless men, who have accessed Bethlehem House accommodation, as calculated in 2016, is 47.49 years.
At Bethlehem House we have a memorial wall of remembrance for those who have been assisted by Bethlehem House and who have passed away. For many it is their only memorial.