Call on united front to tackle homelessness

Call on united front to tackle homelessness

Moreton Bay Regional Council has responded to criticism for restricting access to Apex Park at Woody Point in recent weeks and is calling on all three levels of government to work together to address the issue of homelessness.

Mayor Peter Flannery says Council is in the difficult position of having to act in both the interests of public safety and community welfare and is stepping up to do both.

“Our first priority will always be community safety, which means we need to be able to guarantee our local residents can safely access our parks and playgrounds without incident and we also need supports in place for people sleeping rough,” Mayor Flannery says.

“But illegal camping is an entirely separate issue to homelessness and visitors to our region should book into one of our many great campsites, not just pull up on the nearest Council lawn.

“Thanks to the advocacy of groups like The Breakfast Club, Redcliffe has received a lot of attention, but this is actually a regionwide issue.

“I’m proud to say we’ve partnered with the Palaszczuk Government to construct a new $3 million Homelessness Hub in Redcliffe which is on track for completion by 2023, and I have to thank Minister D’Ath for making this breakthrough commitment happen.

“As a Council we’ve gone above and beyond our statutory responsibilities to provide what support we can, but we can’t do it alone.

“Council is often made out to be the bad guy in this situation, but the truth is Moreton Bay has gone far above and beyond the programs of other Councils.

“The plain and simple fact is that we need more resources from the state and federal governments to address the increasing issues we’re seeing with homelessness in our region.”

Growing demand

Mayor Flannery says there are 2000 people on the waitlist for social housing in the region and there is only one State Government-funded outreach worker.

“I know Luke Howarth is passionate about this issue after his time as Minister for Community Housing and Homelessness, and we desperately need Canberra to take a stronger position on this important social issue,” Mayor Flannery says.

Councillor Karl Winchester (Div 6) says it is time all three levels of government worked together to develop a dedicated strategy for the region.

“Whether that’s more funding for services and community hubs or on a higher level with targeted policy changes, the time to act is now. Council can’t be left to tackle this challenge alone,” Cr Winchester says.

“The demolition of the Old Pensioner’s Hall is a real symbol of home for the future, knowing it will be redeveloped as a Homelessness Hub in a few short years where The Breakfast Club will be able to continue offering their invaluable daily meal service.

“Most impressive is that the new dining hall will have capacity for up to 100 people, as well as providing office space for the specialist service provider and a commercial kitchen and suitable amenities like toilets, showers and carparking.

“This new building will provide space to accommodate a specialist housing and homelessness service provider that will provide critical support for people experiencing homelessness.

“I see this as a great example of what can be done when governments work together, and I know locals want to see more of this to tackle the big infrastructure and social issues coming our way in the face of population growth.”

Federal Government response

Federal member for Petrie Luke Howarth says the Federal Government’s National Housing Financing and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) is making significant inroads to support social and affordable housing, with more than 13,000 social and affordable properties supported in just three years.

Mr Howarth says housing and homelessness is primarily the responsibility of state and territory governments.

He says the Federal Government is also doing its fair share of the heavy lifting with $9 billion expected to be spent of housing and homelessness this coming year including:

  • $5.3 billion in Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments;
  • $27 million for early intervention and prevention for young people at risk of homelessness under the Reconnect program; and
  • $36 million for new and expanded emergency accommodation for women and children escaping family and domestic violence under the Safe Places initiative.

Mr Howarth says this also includes $1.6 billion provided annually to the states under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to improving access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing.

Under this agreement, Queensland will receive almost $1.3 billion between 2018-19 to 2021-22.

This financial year, Queensland will receive more than $333 million, of which more than $33 million is earmarked to support homelessness services that must be matched by the Queensland Government.

State Government response

State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath says the State Government is investing more than $2.9 billion in social housing, the largest ever concentrated investment in Queensland’s history.

“Over the next few years, 176 new social homes will be created in the Moreton Bay Region, this is on top of the 336 homes already being delivered since 2017,” Ms D’Ath says.

“Targeted funding of over $4.1 million has been provided to six organisations to deliver eight specialist homelessness services in the Moreton Bay region.

“I am pleased to have secured $3 million of state funding to develop a dedicated homelessness hub at Redcliffe, which will provide a one-stop-shop of services to vulnerable members of our community.

“The Palaszczuk Government remains deeply committed to supporting vulnerable Queenslanders, but all governments have a role to play. I call on the Federal Government to provide further investment and funding for affordable housing and support measures for our community and Queensland.”

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