Local homeless support services have resorted to handing out tents to deal with the Upper Hunter’s homeless crisis, as the NSW Government today claimed that all homeless people in the state could access accommodation.
Community Services Minister Gareth Ward told Newcastle radio this morning that “If you are homeless anywhere in the state right now, you can call Link2Home … we will find accommodation for you.”
Local emergency accommodation provider Upper Hunter Homeless Support (UHSS) has 1000 clients needing housing support but only receives Government funding for 400 places.
Labor candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton said local homeless support workers were at their wit's end and rightly fuming about the Minister’s comments as they struggle to address growing demand.
“This Government either doesn’t know about the homelessness crisis in the Upper Hunter, or it doesn’t care,” said Mr Drayton.
Our region sends billions down to Sydney, but we have people in the Hunter sleeping in cars, under bridges or on couches. It breaks my heart to hear that people in the Upper Hunter are being given tents because there just aren’t the beds being made available.
“To hear the Minister on the radio this morning congratulating himself for solving homelessness has been galling to the homelessness support workers in the Upper Hunter.
“They have my commitment that I will fight tooth and nail for the Upper Hunter to receive the funding we need to provide emergency accommodation to everyone who needs it.
“We generate plenty of wealth for NSW, no one should be sleeping rough.”
UHSS covers an area of 16500 square kilometres including Singleton and Muswellbrook. It is funded for the same projected figures as it was in 2014.
68% of clients are women and 40% of the women are escaping domestic violence situations.