Homelessness threatens people from all walks of life, from addiction sufferers to single mothers unable to keep up their rent payments.
It could "touch anyone at any time", said Flagstaff Group chief executive Roy Rogers at the launch of the St Vincent De Paul's CEO Sleepout on Wednesday.
A friend of Mr Rogers, after a car accident about two years ago, suffered from depression, and lost his job, his family and his home.
But since he'd been going to St Vinnies, his confidence had improved.
Now he was employed in a casual job and had a roof over his head, Mr Rogers said.
He is encouraging other chief executives to join him in sleeping rough on June 19, to raise funds and awareness for people experiencing homelessness.
Previous sleep-out funds have helped 93 families and individuals in the Illawarra secure or sustain housing through St Vinnies' support.
One third of them were single mothers, who were the most at risk group of losing their home.
Since May last year, $33,000 has been spent directly helping people at risk of homelessness.
St Vinnies also employed brokerage co-ordinator Liz Stumbles to administer the brokerage services.
Mrs Stumbles has advocated for clients by negotiating with banks to reduce clients' monthly repayments, refer them to other supportive services and deliver direct financial help such as bond money.
She said the service was preventive rather than reactive.
"It is not one-off financial assistance, it provides ongoing support," she said.
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Illawarra homeless programs reprieve
Illawarra homelessness initiatives face a more certain future, after the federal government this week pledged $115million to housing services.
The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness had been due to expire on June 30 this year. Many services around the country were uncertain as to whether the agreement would continue to be funded.
The NPAH funds three housing projects in the Illawarra to the tune of up to $2million, including a lauded youth accommodation foyer service and a service for victims of domestic violence.
Narelle Clay, chief executive of Southern Youth and Family Services, applauded the government’s commitment to the NPAH.
‘‘We were very nervous that projects in our area would end, because the foyer in particular is an outstanding project,’’ she said.
‘‘It was the previous government that initiated this agenda, so we were nervous about how the new government would handle it. It’s good they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bath water.’’
The NPAH has been extended until June 30, 2015, funding 180 homelessness services around Australia including the youth foyer service in Wollongong.
Assisting more than 30 young people in employment, education and housing prospects, the foyer model is internationally recognised for its benefits in helping the homeless, but the Wollongong foyer would have folded without the funding extension.
Ms Clay, however, said she hoped a more long-term approach could be decided upon soon.
‘‘It runs out in 2015, so we hope not to be in the same situation a year from now, wondering if we will be funded,’’ she said.
‘‘I hope we can use the next six months constructively to get a long-term arrangement and give security to the services that have proved they are making a difference.’’
- JOSHUA BUTLER