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Locals Thinking Outside The Square On Homelessness

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The Homelessness Roundtable has met for a second time, the latest happening on Monday.

Representatives of key government agencies, human services organisations, church groups and other community organisations were in attendance.

They continued the discussion on options and needs for responding to homelessness on the Sunshine Coast.

The meeting today followed an inaugural roundtable convened by Mayor Mark Jamieson in October 2019, which considered the drivers of homelessness in the region and issues requiring priority attention.

Today’s discussion focused on actions which came out of the 2019 Roundtable forum, including examining different models for short-term crisis or overnight accommodation options for people sleeping rough.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the discussion included a thought-provoking presentation by Norm McGillivray, founder of the not-for-profit organisation Beddown.

“Beddown aims to repurpose spaces such as multi-storey car parks that are commonly used during the day but left vacant at night,’’ Mayor Jamieson said.

“Beddown then activates the space at night into pop-up accommodation, allowing those sleeping rough to access a bed for the night in a safer environment.

“The presentation provided Roundtable attendees with an overview of a trial Beddown ran in Brisbane in 2019, using Secure Parking CBD car parks to provide safe accommodation for homeless people.

“Roundtable participants discussed how council, community services, and other government agencies could potentially support this model locally.”

Mayor Jamieson said everyone in our community should have a safe place to sleep at night, a view shared by all Roundtable participants.

“While the Queensland Government is primarily responsible for funding specialist homelessness support services and social and emergency housing, council has taken a strong position through our Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019-2041 to advocate to other levels of government so that the necessary resources to support affordable housing options and support services are delivered to meet the needs of our community,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Homelessness is a social issue that impacts across communities, which is why approaching the matter collaboratively through forums such as our Roundtable have the potential to achieve the best possible responses.

“As part of developing our Community Strategy, our community told us that one of the four areas of greatest concern to them are housing affordability and homelessness.

“Our Community Strategy includes a range of priorities and actions which involve working with other tiers of government, local community organisations and business to improve access to services for people experiencing homelessness.

“Today’s forum provided an opportunity to discuss these matters with our key partners, with a particular focus on people sleeping rough.”

Some of the actions arising from the second Roundtable forum include -

1. Following up with the Federal Government regarding the implications for the Sunshine Coast of the National Rental Affordability Scheme coming to an end in the next few years and the impacts it will have on over 1000 tenancies.

2. Advocating to the State Government as part of council’s 2020 State Budget submission for the Department of Housing’s Integrated Service Delivery and Care Coordination initiative to be funded on a recurrent basis, including supporting infrastructure solutions.

3. Council officers will coordinate with interested groups at the Roundtable to have further discussions with Beddown on a potential service trial on the Sunshine Coast.

4. Council officers will examine whether potential State planning exemptions for overnight accommodation solutions like Beddown could be advocated to the Queensland Government to facilitate the implementation of innovative solutions for short-term overnight accommodation for people sleeping rough.

5. The Roundtable will continue to look at options to address the needs of people sleeping rough who don’t want to engage with the emergency services and other community services providers.