Katherine is still suffering from an acute shortage of crisis accommodation for young people according to care providers speaking out for the annual Youth Homeless Matters Day today.
Anglicare NT CEO Dave Pugh says while they provide medium-long term accommodation and services, the lack of crisis accommodation is placing many youth in acute risk.
"We have transitional flats to move kids out of homelessness, right now they are all full," he said.
"The big underlying issue in Katherine though is the lack of crisis accommodation - crisis means up to three months, then we provide that next step from three months to a year and connect kids with education and employment.
"These kids haven't generally caused themselves to be homeless, in many cases they're getting away from unsafe home environments and right now it seems that society is okay with them being at risk, Mr Pugh said.
Katherine itself has one of the highest homeless populations per capita in Australia at double the rate of the Northern Territory more broadly.
While there are no statistics publicly available for youth in Katherine specifically, 16 per cent of young people in the Northern Territory meet the definition for homelessness and providers, and over 3,500 young people sleep rough here every night.
Mr Pugh says that while these statistics require context they indicate the particularly acute dangers for youth during the pandemic.
"There is a very high Indigenous representation within those numbers," he said.
"Living in a situation where there are three or more people sharing your room qualifies as homelessness, so those statistics are shining a light on the severe overcrowding in Indigenous communities.
"There's a massive shortage of housing and right now we have the extra specter of hygiene issues," Mr Pugh said.
Instead of the cancelled Couch Race through Darwin which usually marks Youth Homelessness Matters Day, Anglicare NT are spending the occasion making the sombre gesture of hygiene packs.
"We're seeing Anglosaxon young people across Australia ignore the safety warnings and head to Bondi or a party," Mr Pugh said.
"Of course it's difficult to get through to young people but I believe they are understanding the risks now," he said.
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