Homeless shelter a step closer

THE future of Lismore's homeless shelter is in the hands of NSW Lands Minister Tony Kelly.

Kevin Walsh, president of St Vincent de Paul, Lismore, said his organisation had identified a possible site for the shelter, but it was on Crown land and would need to be approved by the Minister.

Mr Walsh didn't wish to divulge the location.

“We're waiting for some sort of decision and hopefully we can then progress on it, but the first thing is to get suitable land approved,” he said. “Lismore MP Thomas George is acting on our behalf and State Parliament resumes next week, so hopefully he will take it forward.”

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said it was 'very early days' for considering the new site. The council's working party hadn't met for several weeks and was waiting for more information from St Vincent de Paul.

Cr Dowell said the council had investigated 10 other possible sites for the shelter, but all of them had problems.

“Most if not all of them were in the flood zone and the Federal Government funding is dependent on it not being in a flood zone,” she said.

She said the Uniting Church was organising a fundraising concert on December 22 for the homeless shelter

The project has been under review since August, when the Federal Government told the council it would not get $200,000 in funding if it built at the South Lismore site, which was in a flood zone.

The shelter was originally planned as an overnight shelter only, for up to 12 men. The advice now is to expand the project so it operates as a 24-hour-a-day facility.

“The model we are looking at would run activities during the day and part of the centre would be a proclaimed space (for people to stay overnight),” Cr Dowell said. “Staff would be watching any person brought in under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It would be separate, with security. It's a more holistic approach.”

Story so far
  • April 2006 : Council's Community Services first suggests looking at a homeless shelter.
  • October 2007: Preferred site identified on railway land in South Lismore.
  • August 2008: Federal Government refuses funding because the land is in a flood zone.

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