An emergency campground for homeless men in Byron shire where they can help build their own tiny homes on wheels is to be set up on a trial basis.
The program, called One Roof Byron, is responding to fears that homelessness in northern NSW will increase due to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next month.
The trial is an early intervention model for Byron men experiencing homelessness, in consultation with Byron Shire Council and local service providers.
One Roof Byron is setting up a Referral Only Emergency Campground particularly for those relatively new to rough sleeping who seek change.
A spokesperson for the program, Genevieve Lee, said figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show the number of homeless people living in our region jumped by 44 per cent over a five-year period, with numbers in Byron Bay increasing 17 per cent.
The figures are expected by Homelessness NSW to climb even higher as the Commonwealth Games force people living rough on the Gold Coast to find alternative shelter.
Ms Lee said that according to the most recent street survey across Byron shire, 78 per cent of those sleeping rough are men and the need for a dedicated respite campground was voiced as a need council and community could help with.
‘Evidence shows that the needs of a person experiencing long-term homelessness is vastly different to a person new to rough sleeping,’ she said.
‘This program aims to provide safety, dignity, respect for personal autonomy and empowerment.’
Campers will have the opportunity to take part in permaculture activities and help build their own tiny homes on wheels, as well as work on resolving the factors which led them to experience homelessness in the first place.
One Roof Byron is an incorporated community association run by community members, some of whom have lived experience of homelessness themselves.
For more details email [email protected]