Real Action on Woolloomooloo Homelessness

I welcome this week's announcement by the Minister for Family and Community Services of funding to provide homes for people sleeping rough in Woolloomooloo.

This is the most significant action taken to address homelessness in decades.

A recent City Street Count which counted around 118 rough sleepers in the Woolloomooloo area - half of Sydney's homeless people - demonstrates that this funding is urgently needed. Many of these homeless people have serious and complex health problems and have been living on the streets for many years.

I've been pushing for action on homelessness in Woolloomooloo for many years, lobbying Ministers and department officers, submitting petitions, speaking and asking questions in Parliament and writing many letters and submissions. Woolloomooloo residents also campaigned, collecting signatures on my petition and calling on the Government to house people living in local streets and parks.

Research shows the best way to help homeless people is to get them into housing and sort out the underlying causes that lead to them being on the street and that's why this new program is so significant. The 70 new homes will have subsidised rent with ongoing support to sort out mental illness and addiction, and to help rough sleepers learn living skills.

Bridge Housing and Neami - a non-government organisation - will work together to locate housing to match people's needs along with services to help them get back on their feet.

I commend the State Government and Federal Government for working with the City to address this longstanding concern.

The City of Sydney is doing more than any other local government authority to address homelessness - the City runs the Homeless Persons Information Centre, funds an outreach worker who works with rough sleepers, organises bi-annual homeless street counts and funds referral and support services in the area.

However Councils have a limited ability to solve homelessness and I commend the new State Government and the Federal Government for taking this urgently needed action.

It is a momentous step toward our common goal of reducing homelessness in the inner city.

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