Byron housing hub to combine organisations helping homeless
AS THE number of homeless people across the country and the region continues to increase, a new Housing Hub will open soon at the Byron Community Centre.
Community Services manager, Cat Seddon, said the new hub would have a broad range of community service organisations operating under one roof to collaborate and attempt to address homelessness in the community.
A recent story in The Northern Star regarding the eviction of illegal campers from the Byron beach sand hills drew a sharp reaction from across the community.
Some have called for the campers to be moved on, citing the ecological damage they cause to the delicate beach landscape and public safety issues.
Others working locally in the community welfare sector said the problem was far more complex.
"Rough-sleepers present challenges to communities across the country," Ms Seddon said. "As an innovative and creative community we need to be discussing new ways to support these people to make the transition to a more sustainable and socially inclusive way of life.
"Middle-aged women are currently the fastest-growing demographic amongst rough-sleepers - a statistic which is often driven by domestic violence.
"And contrary to a popular belief of some, few homeless people were here in Byron Shire for the lifestyle.
"People who are already homeless lose their Centrelink benefits for a substantial period if they do move to this region."
Anita Mansfield, director of Community and Family Programs, NRSDC said: "It's great to see collaborative practice occurring in Byron, working together provides additional support and service delivery to those most in need within our communities.
"A major cause of homelessness was a lack of affordable rental housing in the area." Nicqui Yazdi from the Byron Youth Service said: "This is not an easy fix, nor do the (homeless) have anywhere specific they can go."
For more information about the Housing Hub call: 6685 6807.
THE COLD HARD FACTS
August Real Estate Institute of NSW figures reveal that the Northern Rivers continues to have the State's lowest rental vacancy rate of just 1.3%.
According to a NSW Rent and Sales Report, the median rent for a 3 bedroom house in Byron Bay in June 2015 was $520 a week compared to $410 a week for NSW as a whole.
On top of this, incomes in the Northern Rivers are approximately two thirds that of the State.