Next week is national Homelessness Week
As members of the Sunshine Coast community prepare to sleep rough at the Vinnies Corporate and Community Sleepout on Thursday, 8 August, shocking statistics reveal nearly 24 per cent of homeless people in Australia are under the age of 18.
Vinnies Youth Homelessness Mobile Support Worker Dean Hanley — who is funded by the Department of Housing and Public Works — sees first-hand the hardships youth have to go through to find affordable accommodation.
“If you give somebody a home, you give somebody a rock and a place to start repairing the damage that’s already been done,” said Mr Hanley.
“I work with young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to sustain or obtain accommodation whether they are experiencing primary homelessness, or about to be homeless.
“It can be anybody. There are people from privilege and people from low socio-economic backgrounds and everyone in between. It’s never the same, I have worked with a range of young people over the years.”
Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said homeless people are some of the most vulnerable in our community and this is one night when the community can come together to make a difference.
“St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland (Vinnies) is finding domestic violence, shortage of affordable housing, mental illness, and family breakdown are just a few reasons why people becoming homeless,” said Ms Zubrinich.
“The hard truth is these young people may be in fear of returning home, so they resort to couch-surfing, sleeping in their cars or living on the streets.
“This is why every dollar raised in the Sleepout is vital — it helps Vinnies to provide support services, accommodation and sometimes just a comforting ear to listen.”
Mr Hanley urged people to think about the stress that comes with not knowing what couch you’re sleeping on and the difficulty of being able to plan for the future.
Vinnies is hoping to raise a total of $150,000 through the Sleepout to put towards affordable units on a piece of land in Nambour.
Mr Hanley describes himself as a rock for youth, where he is able to navigate the often confronting and confusing aspects of finding affordable housing.
“When you first walk into the Department of Housing it can be a bit confronting, so for somebody experiencing crisis it’s not really on their radar to apply for a bond loan or a rental grant,” said Mr Hanley.
“If you have a look at a bond loan application form, it’s about 14 pages of mind-boggling confusion. I’m here to guide the youth who find themselves in this situation and accommodation is a real need in the community.”
The Sunshine Coast Business Council is pleading with the community to dig deep, calling for schools, businesses and even community groups to donate, ahead of 2019 Homelessness Week which kicks off on Monday.
“So far, Vinnies has only raised $41,000 and the Sunshine Coast Business Council team — which usually raises close to one third of the funds for the Sleepout — is struggling to reach $10,000,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“We call on all of the Sunshine Coast community to give something to get people off the streets and into safe accommodation. Giving up the cost of a cup of coffee for a week can make a difference to someone else’s world.”
The community and particularly the business community is being urged to help to achieve the $150,000 target needed by Vinnies to provide affordable housing and other essential services for the homeless.
To donate to the cause, register to participate or find our more, please visit www.communitysleepout.org.au.