Homeless catastrophe stretching resources

CATASTROPHIC" is the only way% Denis Pommer can describe homeless- ness on the Tweed. Mr Pommer, who helps the homeless on the Tweed and the southern Gold Coast through the twice-weekly "Lunch with Friends" service, said the situation was worse than expected. "Authorities will tell you things are under control, but they are out of con- trol," Mr Pommer said. "On average we feed 60 people a week, sometimes less, sometimes more." Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made homelessness a prime issue and has asked all his MPs to visit a home- less shelter. According to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Wel- fare (AIHW) released earlier this week, the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), on an% average day in 2005 06 turned away about 356 people seeking immediate accommodation nationwide. About a third of them were children. In the majority of cases, this was be- cause of a lack of availability. While it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the exact statistics for the Tweed, those on the ground suggest the figures are bad. "It is not just certain people, but young kids, families with babies, male, female it exists right across the board," Mr Pommer said. "We had three families in one week asking for help. "I don't believe authorities accept how massive the problem is." --------------- --------------- Mr Pommer said there needed to be more systematic approach to resolving the issue instead. Rosies, Friends on the Street a street outreach program has only been on the Tweed for three weeks and has al- ready attracted 14 homeless people within four days. Co-ordinator John Lee said the tran- sient nature of the homeless made it difficult to get an accurate figure. "It is very tough for them on the streets," Mr Lee said. Tweed Shire Council Community Development Officer Jenni Funari said the situation was only expected to get worse. "It is huge concern," Ms Funari said. "We have been repeatedly been% unable to secure funding for boarding house-style accommodation in the Tweed.



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