No room at inn: Margaret Lord, day manager of the Lismore Soup Kitchen, has seen the numbers of homeless people rise each year in the Lismore area.
No room at inn: Margaret Lord, day manager of the Lismore Soup Kitchen, has seen the numbers of homeless people rise each year in the Lismore area. Jacklyn Wagner

One in 20 lucky to get shelter

FOR the past 20 years, Margaret Lord has watched the number of homeless people in Lismore increase.

She is a day manager at the Winsome Hotel, which provides short-term accommodation.

She said that 20 years ago she and other volunteers would only come across homeless people about once a week.

“Now it's quite a regular thing and we have people coming to us every day needing a room,” Mrs Lord said.

One of the major issues contributing to the homeless problem is the lack of government housing.

“There would be 20 people turn up to apply for government-assisted housing, but only one person will get it,” Ms Lord said.

“It's these people who find it harder and harder to find accommodation and some come to us looking for something.

“But unfortunately ... we can't keep up with the demands.”

Deana Castle, 45, who was staying at the Winsome Hotel yesterday, said she recently found herself needing emergency accommodation after ending a relationship.

She is studying welfare and had been living off a Youth Start Allowance, but after moving to Lismore she found it difficult to find and pay for accommodation.

“I thought I would be using the Winsome Hotel as an agency for my studies, but I've ended up needing its services,” Ms Castle said.

“The process to apply for emergency accommodation is difficult and if I didn't have people I could talk to I don't know how I'd get through something like this.”

Justine Cox, from Northern Rivers Women's and Children's Services, has noticed an increase in the number of homeless women on the Northern Rivers.

“It's heartbreaking and difficult,” she said.

“Many women are slipping through the cracks and the people who really suffer are the kids.

“There are not enough places around here for homeless women.

“We're seeing a lot of women, victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, who go back to the perpetrator because they can't find anywhere else to live.

“They feel like they have no other choice.”



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