Council seeks expressions of interest for homelessness hub
A NEW hub for homelessness support services is on the cards for Byron Bay.
Byron Shire Council voted at the March ordinary meeting to terminate an existing lease for the council-owned building at 18 Fletcher St for the purpose of establishing a homelessness hub.
A report included in the agenda at last Thursday’s meeting cited “a demonstrated urgent need for additional services and supports to decrease rough sleeping and its impacts in the Byron Shire”.
“Establishing a homelessness hub in Byron Bay would allow local services to co-locate, making it easier for individuals to access them, and would also create space for additional service delivery,” the council’s staff said in the report.
“A proposed hub must be centrally located and the site, formerly known as the Fletcher St Cottage, is well-placed.”
Mayor Simon Richardson said he hoped to find the “anchor tenant” who could “provide the outcome we want”.
With an “increased impact” of homelessness possible over the coming months, Cr Ricardson said the decision was vital.
“This is really important,” Cr Richardson said.
“We need spaces that are safe, that are focused on giving people the help they need … (and) supporting members of our community who are doing it tough.”
Deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye said such a facility would show a “sense of compassion” for those most in need.
“We are likely to see a lot more people struggling and in stress,” she said.
“So many people in our area work in tourism and hospitality.
“We need to do whatever we can to prepare for that now.”
No one spoke against the staff recommendation.
The property at 18 Fletcher St is owned by the council’s Water Fund and is part of the previously proposed Fletcher and Lawson St redevelopment, which councillors voted to halt in November last year.
The council will seek expressions of interest for potential “anchor tenants” of the proposed hub, using the legislated minimum Crown lease amount of $539 a year as a guide.