[Hpn] Australian Capital Territory - Homelessness is a huge and growing problem that we should be trying to fix - The Canberry Times - AU - July 11, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <icanamerica@bellsouth.net
Fri, 12 Jul 2002 08:13:03 -0500

Homelessness is a huge and growing problem that we should be trying to fix now,
Democrat Roslyn Dundas said yesterday.

By DAVID McLENNAN - The Canberry Times - AU - July 11, 2002

An ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Council of Social Service report issued
this week estimated there were 1265 to 1570 homeless people in the ACT at any
given time and up to 5350 a year. Up to 315 of these were without conventional
housing and sleeping on the streets, in cars or deserted buildings, each night.

Ms Dundas said the Government's reviews and reports were all well and good, but
she wanted to know where the money was for the 315 people who were sleeping on
the streets on minus-five degree nights.

The problem would not be solved just by throwing money at it, although that
would help. Outreach and early intervention programs were needed to stop people
from becoming homeless in the first place.

Ms Dundas said the Government announced a $3 million commitment to increase
affordable housing, but this seemed to be all smoke and mirrors.

She was also not convinced the Government planned to relieve market pressure by
increasing land releases.

She would pursue the matter in estimates hearings next week.

Greens MLA Kerrie Tucker said many homeless people were also living with mental
illness and, often, substance problems.

"Reducing homelessness is not just about adequate crisis intervention and a
place to live - although these are also essential," she said.

"Particularly for people living with mental illnesses, we need well-coordinated,
good-quality, ongoing support for people to manage their lives and maintain
their housing.

"ACT Housing needs to work with the full range of community services, and we
need to be sure we have the appropriate ongoing, flexible support services

Opposition Leader Gary Humphries said a Liberal homelessness forum early this
year had raised a number of the issues from the report.

"We believe that the report that the Government has handed down has to be acted
on quickly and it is certainly not one that should be read, sat on a shelf and
forgotten about," he said.

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