HOME BOY: Manager of the Byron Community centre Paul Spooner is concerned for the Shire's homeless and rough sleepers.
HOME BOY: Manager of the Byron Community centre Paul Spooner is concerned for the Shire's homeless and rough sleepers. Sam Elley

Spooner pushes state on homeless plight

A SUBMISSION by Byron Community Centre to the NSW Government review of the NSW Homelessness Strategy has once again highlighted the desperate need for affordable housing in the Byron Shire.

Community Centre manager Paul Spooner said the submission was based on 2011 Census data and a specially designed Street Life in Byron Survey of rough sleepers undertaken in September 2016.

"We have serious concerns the Department of Family and Community Services and Housing NSW has consistently failed to recognise the unmet need and growing demand for affordable housing and homelessness responses in regional areas of NSW, including the particular needs of the Byron Shire,” he said. "Here in the Byron Shire we have six times more rough sleepers than the state average and 70% of those are not on any public housing waiting list.

"Fifty seven percent of these rough sleepers are on a disability pension and the same proportion nominate the lack of affordable housing as the number one priority followed by showers and transport.”

With the growing affordable housing crisis developing in the local area, Mr Spooner said there was an immediate need for a renewed focus on providing additional forms of housing supply for people on low and very low incomes.

"We have fallen way behind other areas of NSW in the provision of social housing,” he said. "Just 1.8% of our housing stock is designated as social housing whereas the state average is 5% and at the end of the day we can't get people off the street if there is nowhere for them to go.

"We believe that funding for responding to homelessness should be directed at local government areas rather than larger regional areasto ensure that responses are based on local need and can be integrated with local council planning processes around community needs.

The Community Centre delivers a range of community services to those in need across the shire including Liberation Larder meal service, Homeless Breakfast, Community Shower Service, No Interest Loans Scheme, General and Financial Counselling, Interrelate, and Housing Support.


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