Homelessness, and an ever increasing number of working homeless, is becoming the new norm across the nation and the need for roofs over heads and services to deal with the issue is on the rise.
Greens candidate for the seat of Lismore, Sue Higginson, will sleep overnight in Knox Park, Murwillumbah to highlight the problem.
‘The most vulnerable people in Murwillumbah are sleeping rough in Knox Park,’ she said. ‘It’s become renowned as an increasingly unsafe area, with youths setting off petrol bombs recently, loud fights a regular occurrence and residents calling for an increased police presence there after the death of Murwillumbah local Charlie Larter last June.’
Homelessness has become an epidemic
Ms Higginson says that under the Coalition government, homelessness has become an epidemic exacerbated by cruel economic policies and inaction. ‘With 288,000 people seeking official homelessness assistance last year, it is now an issue facing many ordinary Australians, including families who can’t manage mortgage stress or find rentals.
‘The largest single demographic for homelessness in the near future will be women over 50.
‘We are talking about ordinary Australians who are or have been workers, parents and carers suddenly finding themselves homeless after sickness, divorce, or loss of employment. Once homeless, it is extremely difficult to re-establish employment, health or stability and so the cycle deepens.’
Housing is a basic human right
Sue says that the Greens believe that housing is a basic human right. ‘The Northern Rivers was once a leader in innovative low-cost housing developments, but successive governments have openly discouraged such cost-effective, locally led solutions.
‘As an experienced planning lawyer, I know exactly what can be done to cut the red tape and once again allow the Northern Rivers to lead the way in sustainable, low-cost housing solutions.
‘This is an issue that requires cooperation at both state and federal levels and the Greens have policies in place to address it.
‘We’ll double homelessness funding under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) to $800 million per year and guarantee that funding for ten years to give providers certainty. The Greens will also invest in 500,000 new public and community homes through our Federal Housing Trust.’
‘Successive governments have failed ordinary Australians. From policies that reward speculative investment in homes, through to tacit support for a predatory banking sector, the wealthy get richer and the vulnerable go under.
‘It’s a problem we have to face as a nation and one that we can only cure at the ballot box’, she said.
Ms Higginson will be bringing food and refreshments to the park on Friday, February 15 and is hoping to speak to some of the people sleeping rough there every night.
Ms Higginson is inviting her supporters, members of the public and the media to join her.