You might have seen or heard stories today about rough sleepers in Belmore Park.
While homelessness and the provision of social housing is the responsibility of the NSW Government, the City is the only council with a dedicated homelessness unit. Our public space liaison officers work with rough sleepers every day - staff know the individuals personally and advocate on their behalf to get them housing, Medicare and Centre link assistance and other support. We've dedicated $4.2 million to fund services and we conduct two street counts every year.
Police told us there had been an increase in antisocial behaviour in Belmore Park so we decided to trial security guards to increase safety for all park users and to advise newly-arriving rough sleepers that tents and other structures are not permitted in the park. The trial includes working together with the State Government to put these rough sleepers in touch with the right agencies and organisations to help them find permanent accommodation.
In the last few weeks since the trial began, the overall number of tents in the park has dropped.
Homelessness is an incredibly complex issue. The description today by some media outlets that those sleeping rough in Belmore Park are an "eyesore" and an "embarrassment" are cruel and heartless. Rough sleepers deserve dignity. The City will continue working with the State to ensure they have safe spaces to sleep.