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More youth beds on horizon for Tweed

SUPPORT NEEDED: The Family Centre hopes to see more transitional beds for Tweed youth after 12 were lost in 2014.
SUPPORT NEEDED: The Family Centre hopes to see more transitional beds for Tweed youth after 12 were lost in 2014. Cade Mooney

LIVING on the streets is rough at any stage in your life.

For young people, however, this hardship can be devastating for those still trying to complete their education and build their career prospects.

Shadow Minister for Social Housing Tania Mihailuk has called for a Parliamentary Inquiry to address homelessness in New South Wales.

Ms Mihailuk blamed the Coalition state government for compounding the issue, with the sale of more than 4241 social housing dwellings since it was elected in 2011.

"We urgently need an inquiry because, under this government, homelessness and the need for social housing are reaching new levels,” Ms Mihailuk said.

"An inquiry can find the answers the Government is missing for the crisis in homelessness.

"There are over 60,000 households on the waiting list for social housing, and the number of people sleeping rough on the streets has risen by more than a quarter under the government's watch.”

Rough stats

  • An average of 308 people homeless in Tweed (ABS data).
  • Per head of population 7.2% more people sleeping rough in Tweed Shire than the NSW average.
  • Per head of population, there are 20.2% more secondary homeless persons (persons in supported homeless accommodation, or staying temporarily with another household) than the NSW average.

Waiting times for social housing are:

  • Tweed Heads: More than a decade for one, two and three-bedroom homes. More than five years for four-bedroom homes.
  • Murwillumbah: More than a decade for one, two and four-bedroom homes. Two to five years for three-bedroom homes.
  • If you are in need of urgent housing help, phone The Family Centre on 0755248711.

The Tweed-based Family Centre's executive director David Boutken said the Connecting Home Consortium - of which they are a member - had applied for a state government tender to offer an additional 92 youth housing beds across the Far North Coast.

If the consortium's bid is successful, he said The Family Centre would look to those services for the Tweed, Byron and Ballina Shires. Based on population, Mr Boutken predicted the funding would bring up to six new beds on the Tweed.

He said the Specialised Homelessness Services Funding, delivered through the Northern Youth Project for Northern New South Wales, would help in many ways. But that will only bring back up to half of the 12 Tweed Shire transitional youth beds which were scrapped in 2014.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there's an estimated total of 308 homeless people in the Tweed Shire.

Per head of population, the Tweed Shire has 7.2% more primary homeless and 20.2% more secondary homeless (those in supported homeless accommodation) than the state average.

While he welcomed the additional beds, Mr Boutken said there was still a long way to go.

"There'll still be a huge issue in terms of the number of people who need affordable or assisted housing,” Mr Boutken said.

"It has a major impact on young people when we can't find affordable or assisted housing. They may not be able to stay at school. They're shuffling in between accommodation.”

He said the difficulties these young people faced meant it was often difficult for them to finish their education and to meet their full potential.

While more transitional beds is a step in the right direction, he said the "equity gap” underlying the region's housing crisis would need to be tackled by government.

Mr Boutken said more than 300 people aged 15 to 24 approached The Family Centre for urgent housing help each year.

It's not yet known when the successful applicant of the tender will be decided.


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