Homeless struggling in soggy conditions

INCESSANT rain has left homeless%people scrambling for cover, according to a Tweed charity worker. Rosies, Friends on the Street Tweed co-ordinator John Lee said the continuing bad weather had made the homeless more vulnerable. Calling for an emergency shelter, Mr Lee said the homeless needed a place to take refuge from the elements. "The rain has made it worse for the homeless, especially if they have children," Mr Lee said. "The weather has gone berserk, and because of the Christmas-New Year period all the%motels are booked out as well." Rosies, Friends on Street is a not-for-profit organisation providing outreach services to the homeless on Coolan-%gatta and Murwillumbah. The Tweed, Mr Lee said, urgently needed affordable housing. "For a family of five in a standard%caravan park it can cost $50 a night and $350 a week for a tent site," he said. "Some people just can't get off the bottom rung." Asking for help from both state and federal government, Mr Lee said the Tweed needed a central body designed to act as a one-stop shop for services for the homeless. "There are different charities, all very good people trying very hard to help those in need," he said. "But there is no central organisation. "We need to consolidate our resources and centralise the services." Mr Lee said individual charities were often the one left to pick up the slack. "We scratch around, beg and knock on doors," he said. "There is a lack of administrative will to tackle the problem, which is considered to be too hard." Lauding Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's initiative to put the homeless issue on the agenda, Mr Lee called on Federal MP and Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot to spearhead a taskforce for the homeless on the Tweed. "We need to sit down, brain storm and start an organisation that works across the border," he said. Ms Elliot yesterday would only repeat the Rudd government's election promise to invest $150 million over five years with the aim of halving the number of homeless people turned away from homeless shelters. "The federal government will commit to closing the gap between requests for accommodation and the current supply of emergency housing over the next decade," Ms Elliot said.

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