Council plans to help rough sleepers
29 March 2017
Inner Westies sleeping rough, in temporary shelters, supported and emergency accommodation and homeless in other ways will find Council more focused on helping them to find long term solutions, with a new Homelessness Policy guiding its actions.
With Australia experiencing an 8% increase in homelessness at the 2011 census, rough sleepers can be found in parks, cars, stairwells, verges and footpaths throughout the inner west.
The Policy, adopted by Council last night, provides strategies for Council to use in helping to address homelessness in the inner west.
Administrator of Inner West Council Richard Pearson said that as a draft the policy had already helped Council to focus its efforts and make a real difference.
“We have worked with various organisations to provide an early morning outreach service in Pratten Park and other areas around the Ashfield town centre,” said Mr Pearson.
“In the last few months we have helped two people to find permanent housing, including one older gentleman who has been homeless for many years. Our Advocacy has also led to the creation of a new six month outreach position for the inner west, as part of Missionbeat.”
Homelessness in extreme weather conditions was also highlighted during consultation on the policy
“The extreme rainy weather we have experienced has brought this to the forefront of many minds,” said Mr Pearson. “Our staff are working with Council’s homelessness working group and local homelessness services to find ways for us to help address these events, which can be extremely dangerous for people sleeping rough.”
Council staff are often the first to be aware of where rough sleepers are gathering.
“Staff in street works, park maintenance, regulatory services and waste services, for example, often know where people are sleeping rough,” said Mr Pearson. “The policy gives us a framework to work across Council to provide this information to specialist services who can offer welfare checks and information about accommodation and other support services.”
The outreach service in Pratten Park has been provided by representatives from the Department of Family and Community Services, Housing NSW, The Haymarket Centre, Exodus, Commonground; NSW Health and Council.
Council carried out three late night street counts of people sleeping rough between March 2016 and February 2017.
- March 2016 – street count in Ashfield, Summer Hill and Haberfield identified 20 people.
- August 2016 – 23 people identified in Ashfield, Summer Hill, Marrickville, Newtown, Camperdown and Enmore.
- February 2017 – 10 people identified in Ashfield, Summer Hill, Tempe, Newtown and Leichhardt.