Bay Street business owner Barbara Cook does not want Whitehall Lodge turned into a homeless drop-in shelter.
Bay Street business owner Barbara Cook does not want Whitehall Lodge turned into a homeless drop-in shelter. Crystal Spencer

Homeless plan backed

THE building owners at the centre of a Tweed Heads CBD homeless drop-in-shelter controversy say Government management of their lodge would be a positive for the area.

Wednesday's Tweed Daily News revealed a number of nearby business owners were not happy the State Government was considering turning Bay Street's Whitehall Lodge into a homeless shelter.

They claim it would not be appropriate for a developing business area close to a primary school.

Danny and Millie Zivojinovic have owned the lodge since 1995 and said yesterday leasing the building to the Government was the best option.

The couple have opened the doors of their lodge to those less-fortunate since 2003, but having passed the age of 65, they are keen to retire and want the building to be operated by Housing New South Wales.

Rumours of the lodge being put on the market were quashed by Mr Zivojinovic, when he declared it would not be sold.

He said it had, for a number of years, accepted people in need of crisis accommodation on the referral of community organisations such as Saint Vincent de Paul, On Track and the Salvation army.

“We have never had a problem with anybody in the 15 years we have been here,” Mr Zivojinovic said.

“They are in here and happy with a roof over their heads.”

He said with Government management, visitors would have 24-hour supervision and the extra help they needed.

“If the Government takes over, it would be a better place.”

“People think it would bring all the druggies here, but no, I don't think so.

“(Tweed MP) Geoff Provest said the place would be run better and I believe so too.”

Mrs Zivojinovic hit out at critics of the idea.

“Can I ask what these people have against less-fortunate people having a roof over their heads?” she said.

John Lawler, 75, has been living at Whitehall Lodge for six years.

He picked out room 23 back in March, 2004 and has lived there since.

“Bad people wouldn't come to this place; they can't drink and they can't smoke,” Mr Lawler said. “I'd be homeless if I wasn't living here”

Cafe Lazumba owner Barbara Cook reaffirmed her opposition to the plan yesterday and said it was not just about business, but also the nearby primary school.

“The Central Business District is not appropriate for a drop-in shelter,” she said.

She was concerned it would attract a different kind of person to the current residents - people with addictions to drugs and alcohol.

“If they are out there on the street doing drugs and drinking alcohol, then it is a problem for this area,” she said.

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