Know where to get help in Gloucester - Homelessness Week 2020

This year's theme for Homelessness Week (August 2-8) is 'Everybody Needs a Home'. Photo Shutterstock
This year's theme for Homelessness Week (August 2-8) is 'Everybody Needs a Home'. Photo Shutterstock

It's estimated that around 25 to 30 people battle homelessness each night in Gloucester.

But what is homelessness?

According to Mission Australia, homelessness is a issue that goes beyond the lack of a roof or access to safe shelter, it includes vulnerable people living in refuges, crisis accommodation or in temporary housing.

This year's theme for Homelessness Week (August 2-8) is 'Everybody Needs a Home'. On Monday August 3, Homelessness Australia and Everybody's Home launched a pledge encouraging supporters to ask their federal members to build more social housing to create jobs and help end homelessness.

To help the cause, the organisations put together a 'heat map' indicating the level of homelessness and need for social housing in each electorate. The map shows that Lyne as 300 homeless people and that 3,700 people (or 6.3 per cent of the population) need social housing, ranking the region fourth worse in the State outside of Sydney.

It was the federal Department of Social Services that cut the funding to the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group (BWNG) at the end of last year, reallocating it to larger organisations without a presence in Gloucester.

After federal member for Lyne David Gillespie lobbied to secure 'like-for-like' support in Gloucester, the BWNG has been able to continue to offer some face-to-face help for people in need.

According to BWNG chief executive officer Anna Burley, the organisation offers a 'Safety Net' program which can assist with food vouchers, pharmacy assistance, emergency fuel cards, Energy Accounts Payable Assistance (EAPA) and Telstra vouchers.

"Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and community members, we also have donated food available Monday to Friday," Ms Burley said.

There is also a non-judgemental, independent, confidential and free financial counsellor available by appointment on Wednesdays. The counsellor is a qualified professional who provides information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.

One of the services missing in Gloucester is access to a case manager who can help people face-to-face. Due to lack of funding for the position, BWNG can only refer people on to Link2Home.

When it comes to social housing, that responsibility falls into the lap of the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC).

According to a NSW Government spokesperson there currently 36 LAHC owned properties in Gloucester that are managed by Community Housing Provider, Compass Housing.

"This is in addition to the 10 properties in Gloucester that are owned and managed by Community Housing Provider, Community Housing Limited," the spokesperson said.

"The NSW Government is undertaking the biggest social housing building program in the country, delivering more and better housing for tenants and NSW families. We have also made a commitment to halve the number of people sleeping rough by 2025.

"We have also announced an additional 1000 packages of rental assistance to support people at risk of homelessness into the private rental market."

According to Ms Burley, what Gloucester needs is low cost, good quality, affordable housing.

"A range of housing is required like two bedroom units not just four bedroom homes," Ms Burley explained.

Anyone who is at risk of homelessness can contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152. DCJ staff provide information or referrals to homelessness services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

The BWNG Safety Net program is available 10am - 2pm Tuesday and Thursday by appointment which can be made by calling the safety net officer on 6558 2454. To make an appointment with the financial counsellor call Steven McWilliams on 0448 676 091.