Homeless shelter facing opposition
By Jamie Brown
A GROUP of South Lismore business owners have united in opposition to a planned homeless shelter in their neighbourhood.
A proposal mooted by Lismore mayor Merv King and endorsed by The Northern Star to house the homeless somewhere in Lismore has been condemned by the group who vowed to fight it as they did a planned needle exchange several years ago.
They said they had no issues with local homeless and mentally disabled, but feared drug users would swamp the facility, bringing with them their 'ice addictions' and subsequent violent behaviour.
A meeting attended by more than 20 business owners on Wednesday night confirmed this concern.
Glen Harward, who started an interior design and cafe business 12 months ago, said new money was coming into South Lismore, the neighbourhood was changing and a homeless shelter would be detrimental to this new growth.
"We are comfortable with the existing homeless in South Lismore," he said.
"We all know them by name.
"They are part of our community.
"But to centralise all homeless in Lismore at one shelter is too much.
"How much can a small community handle?"
Terry Beadle took over the South Lismore Post Office last May and said South Lismore carried enough of the homeless burden in this regional city.
Existing issues with anti-social behaviour have soured the most compassionate feelings.
Mr Beadle said there had been three overdoses in the South Lismore business district in the past year.
Customers had been harangued and residents were scared, he said.
"We feel this proposed shelter is being pushed on us without our consultation," Mr Beadle said.
Dave Manby, of The Seedling House, said his daughter had been hassled for money.
Lisa Marx, of Success Martial Arts, noted the parents of her students were worried about resident drug addicts in the neighbourhood.
Lismore mayor Merv King, meanwhile, said the planning process was in its early stages.
"Our view is that there are already homeless using the South Lismore soup kitchen and sleeping out around that facility," he said.
"We feel they would be better off in a managed situation."