Thursday, May 30, 2024

Eurobodalla Mayor shoulders homelessness crisis

Eurobodalla Shire Mayor, Mathew Hatcher says action is needed by all levels of government to ease the shire’s housing crisis.

The Mayor says he will ask Council to consider the repurposing of local halls to provide accommodation to people seeking shelter in the local government area.

“This is a crisis,” Mayor Hatcher said. “The shire’s homelessness services are providing all the right supports to people, but there’s simply no housing. That’s the issue none of us can address.”

He said he was hearing “loud and clear” the community’s cries to support people living in tents, particularly at the Council-owned North Head campground at Moruya where around 50 families are currently based.

“Case workers are already supporting people at the campground. I understand the good intentions of people calling on Council to open up halls for shelter, but before that can happen we need to examine practicalities like personal safety, privacy, the available facilities, and whether local agencies are resourced to manage them.”

The Mayor said while opening up local halls was a short-term fix, more permanent solutions were needed to help solve homelessness in the Eurobodalla.

“I want to explore the feasibility of a pilot project funded by the Federal government to build tiny homes on Council or Crown land,” he said.

“Council could also consider taking a loan to build a facility to be run by one of our local homelessness services.

“We need to think differently about this and explore new ways to help our residents, and we need the NSW and Federal governments to do the same.

“NSW Government regulations prevent people staying in campgrounds for longer than 50 days in one year. Obviously we’re overlooking that at the moment so families have somewhere to be in the midst of this crisis.”

Council has also written to the NSW Government to calling for the provision of worker housing ahead of the Moruya bypass and regional hospital construction. That housing could be used by locals once the projects are complete, the Mayor said.

“Council staff have also worked with local agencies to pilot a program providing free hot showers and laundry services for people experiencing homelessness, and through my own contacts I’ve arranged for 500 blankets to be donated and distributed locally to those in need.”

“We’re doing our bit, and we’re now asking the NSW and federal government to do theirs.”

Mayor Hatcher says he’s confident he’ll find support with local MPs Kristy McBain, Fiona Phillips and Michael Holland, and intends to reach out to them on the matter.

He said discussions with Council staff and local agencies were underway, with a report to Council expected on 28 June that will seek a budget allocation to progress local efforts.

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