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City Hub 

April 18, 2008 

City News 

April 26, 2008 

By Linda Daniele 

An increase in the number of homeless people seeking help in Newtown has forced the establishment of a community forum. 

Staff at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have reported more than 1200 accommodation requests and over 450 tenancy issue queries in the past year alone, and expect the number to grow even further. 

‘We’re finding that a lot more people are turning up to our front counter who are homeless and it’s one of our biggest unmet needs,’ the Centre’s executive officer, Lisa Burns said. 

Along with the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Ms Burns has organized a forum on May 14 to allow for the development of critical new strategies to address the issue. 

Representatives from some of the Centre’s key partner service providers in the inner city area will speak at the forum, including the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service and the Inner City Homelessness Outreach and Support Service, established by the Department of Housing’s Homelessness Unit for people across the City of Sydney area. 

‘It’s a real problem meeting the need that is out there, and I can see it is getting worse,’ Ms Burns said. 

‘Homelessness services can only meet 14% of the accommodation needs and I know some people are sleeping rough.’ 

Finding a home is a basic need and must be met before anything else can follow, according to Ms Burns. ‘Without housing, people can’t find work, health issues arise and they are prone to becoming victims of crime,’ she said. 

‘There are mental health issues as well. Effectively it means homeless people can’t participate in society.’ 

The Neighbourhood Centre currently requires a dedicated housing officer, counselling service, and increased access to affordable long-term housing. 

‘It often feels like we have to go from crisis to crisis before we can support people, with nothing done about maintaining wellness,’ she said. 

The Centre will be launching a directory of services at the forum and hope to establish a working party to raise the issue of homelessness in the area in response to the Federal Government’s discussion paper on homelessness, being distributed for consultation during May. 

The Sydney Street Choir, whose members include homeless or disadvantaged men and women, sponsored by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, will be singing in a closing performance. 

This article was first published in City Hub, April 18, 2008 and City News, April 26, 2008.

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