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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Helping homeless ‘not core business’ but ‘we have to help each other’ say Tweed Council

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‘We are second only to the City of Sydney Council and Byron Shire Council in terms of the number of people we’ve got sleeping on the streets.’

In 2021 Tweed Shire Council (TSC) declared a ‘Housing Emergency’ due to ‘the lack of affordable and attainable housing in the Tweed’.

‘Since then we have had 500 homes rendered unliveable by the 2022 floods and a significant domestic inward migration to our region as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said staff notes on the issue. 

Councillors have now thrown their support behind the ‘Housing First “Common Ground” model’ and are pushing ahead to create a business case for an affordable housing project for Tweed Heads. This follows conversations with the state government who have said they need to see the ‘numbers and a ‘business case’ for the proposal. 

According to background notes on the recommendation, Housing First is considered ‘best practice for providing sustainable housing for people who have experienced long term or recurring homelessness’. It was originally developed in the United States, in response to the health crisis in New York in the 1990s to offer immediate access to safe, affordable, and permanent housing, partnered with all of the supports necessary to address the person’s mental health, health, and other social needs through a wraparound support model.

The council business case will look at how the state and federal governments can come on board to provide the land and funding to facilitate the development of the project. 

‘Studies do show that it is actually much cheaper to subsidise housing in a wraparound model like this, where people can access the services that they need than to leave people on the streets,’ said Cr Cherry.

Not core council business

Council staff, the mayor and other councillors all recognised that providing housing was not part of the ‘core remit’ of the council while Cr Rhiannon Brinsmead pointed out that, ‘lots of stuff we do is not our core business. But this, in my opinion, is particularly worthy’.

‘We’ve talked about this for months and we’re just gonna go around around circles if we don’t fund a big business case,’ said Councillor Merideth Dennis. 

‘We have over 500 people sleeping in the streets and the difference between the haves and the have nots is getting wider and wider. We can’t just keep saying “oh, well, you know, housing so expensive. Oh, yes, it’s very sad”. We need to get the figures and we need to get the details so that we can access the funding and do something. 

‘It’s not part of our core business, but they are our residents and they are humans. We are humans and we have to help each other. So I’m very supportive.’ 


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6 COMMENTS

  1. It is commendable that, Tweed Council should do something to help those in need.
    In my experience, the provision of toilets, water and showers and a protected dry area to sleep, would be of great benefit to the poor and travellers. These measures would be of minimum cost and not create a ghetto.
    I am still wondering what happened to Echo story, of the twenty-fifth, I think.
    “Byron Council explores indigenous housing
    Byron Council is considering a suite of measures to help ensure that local Aboriginal people can own houses on Country.”
    Perhaps a can of worms on steroids, Cheers, G”)

  2. ‘Not core business’ ?
    Why is it not core business to first ensure that everyone has the basics that every human needs eg, food, water and shelter?

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