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Byron Shire
June 14, 2021

I had a dream

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Jenny Bird, Bangalow

I had a dream that the mega-rich in the Shire all got together and, as an act of collective philanthropy, built a new emergency housing hostel for the homeless. The hostel was called ‘The Hostel for Superheroes’ because every person who is homeless is a superhero. People struggling with mental health and addictions, women fleeing domestic violence with their children, older women who’re victim to the structural/financial inequalities of their gender, teenagers fleeing from unsafe homes, all found refuge there.

The hostel was beautiful, a place fit for superheroes, with different areas catering to different needs. Professional staff supported the homeless to take whatever steps they needed to gain help and to secure housing.

In the dream the NSW Government had properly bit the bullet after 30 years of neglect in the provision of social housing. Sustained protest from the community and a ‘No social housing policy No Vote’ campaign had finally worked. Local members who showed no will were long gone, their political careers over. 5,000 new social houses had been built every year for the last ten years, so there were now 50,000 extra social houses across NSW. And they had renovated all the old ones. The NSW Government had, after all, been a negligent landlord for too long.

So, in the dream, the homeless of Byron moved smoothly from their emergency accommodation in The Hostel for Superheroes into secure and protected long-term accommodation. Some needed rehabs or other facilities, but a home awaited them when they were ready. Most of them, on a playing field that is anything but level, could not ever own a home. Scott Morrison and his impossible (cruel even?) ‘Have a Go, Get a Go’ slogan had been put to political bed. Kevin Rudd’s pledge from 2008 that no one would sleep rough in Australia by 2020 had finally been realised. Better late than never.

Byron Bay could hold its head up with pride. It no longer had the second highest rate of sleeping rough in NSW. Its homeless were safe, the most needy in the community were taken care of.

There were of course other big housing problems to solve, but that’s another dream.

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