Community groups rally for homeless
NORTHERN Rivers community groups and businesses rallied together last week to tackle the region's mounting homelessness crisis.
To mark national Homelessness Week locals were shouted to free haircuts, clothes, camping gear, a barbecue lunch, entertainment and time to connect with local services at The Winsome on Bridge Street.
On Track Community Programs (OTCP) Homelessness Service Manager Sarah Walker said demand for housing support was greater than ever.
"The last Census only counted about 1500 homeless people across the Northern Rivers' seven local government areas but our experience is that it's much worse on the ground,” Ms Walker said.
"The critical shortage of safe, secure, affordable housing in our region means too many families and individuals have to sleep rough or depend on friends or family for shelter. Adding to the pressure is many middle-income families being pushed out of the rental market, with dozens of people vying for each rental property.”
Ms Walker said the Homelessness Connect event at Lismore provided practical support and united the community to help solve the problem.
OTCP also organised to give out more than 100 tents, floor mats, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and other camping gear which were collected after the Splendour in the Grass music festival.
"These events rely on the support of businesses such as ANZ, Richmond Valley Meats and R Gordon & Son Real Estate and we're also grateful to the many community partners involved,” she said.
This year the event was also attended by Lismore MP, Kevin Hogan, Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie and Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith.
See pics on back page.