Homeless crisis needs urgen action

Homelessness is on the increase in Lismore according to a new report by consultant Maralyn Schofield, who says low incomes and rising rental prices are forcing dozens of people to sleep rough every night.

Ms Schofield, who will launch the report in Lismore next week, says as winter approaches the city is at crisis point and there needs to be support from every level of government to come up with a solution.

The Soup Kitchen is seeing up to 70 people a day and many of those people have no place to sleep or keep their property, she said. Some of these people have numerous issues and are desperate for help.

People sleeping in parks, streets and cars reported being fearful for their safety and the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre is stretched to capacity with volunteers working overtime to give information and support to some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Ms Schofields report, prepared for the Caring Community Action Group and the UnitingCare Lismore Regional Mission, calls for urgent action on its recommendations for a drop in centre and a crisis accommodation centre in the city.

Its not good enough to say theres no funding much bigger money is found for other things like the new swimming pool, she said. The drop-in centre would cost about $200,000 to set up, and ongoing funding for staff. The crisis accommodation centre would cost around $500,000 to set up and $500,000 a year to run.

The report found that Lismore and Nimbin experience some of the states worst poverty levels, while at the same time rental accommodation has become too expensive for many single people and families, especially those solely reliant on Centrelink benefits.

Poor public transport and the distance from facilities made it even more difficult for people to get help.

Ms Schofields report will be launched next Thursday, March 23, at the Red Dove Centre in Lismore at 12pm.

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