John Lee and Geoff Provest want a home for homeless people.
John Lee and Geoff Provest want a home for homeless people.

Homeless in need of housing

JOHN Lee’s heart broke when he saw a 70-year-old homeless man die on the street in his own excrement.

What breaks his heart more is where he’s seeing it happen.

“This is happening in the middle of Tweed Heads,” said the founder of the Tweed-based charity, You Have a Friend.

Although 18 new, one- and two-bedroom community houses have been completed for people in need at Tweed Heads under the Federal Government’s stimulus plan, Mr Lee said it was not enough.

“In 2006 Tweed Heads had the highest homeless rate per capita,” Mr Lee said.

“This is not going to look good for the Tweed.

“The major thing is we at least need a drop-in centre and we need it now.”

Tweed MP Geoff Provest has recently sent a business plan to NSW shadow housing minister Greg Pearce that outlines obtainable goals for the homeless situation in the Tweed. He is due to receive feedback in the coming weeks.

Mr Provest said the State Government did not have its priorities straight.

“The State Government believes a longer-term accommodation plan in Tweed Heads is the answer, but they haven’t seen what it’s like on the streets,” he said.

“They have mobile breast screening vans and blood vans. I really want one of those to help the homeless in Tweed Heads and also to have more police, and I will be making this an election issue.”

Mr Lee extended an invitation to Tweed Mayor Kevin Skinner to come to the streets and have a look at what is going on.

Cr Skinner said he would not accept Mr Lee’s invitation.

“I don’t need to see it. I know exactly what’s going on,” Cr Skinner said.

“How and where to build a crisis accommodation centre is the question, especially the where.

“No one will want it anywhere near them.”

Cr Skinner also said it was the continual running of the centre that would prove the biggest problem.

“We need 10-15 people like John Lee to run the centre,” he said.

Mr Lee said finding people to run the centre would be no problem at all and he already had a list of people ready and willing to help.

“We would have no shortage of people to run the drop-in centre and we have support from local churches,” he said.

“Where do you go when there’s nowhere to go?”

Visit to sign Mr Lee’s homeless petition.

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