My abiding impression is that they weren’t giving out houses – or smokes!! Both are big priorities for homeless people.

Did anyone attending look at the ceiling, and the amount of covert surveillance equipment installed? I didn’t notice any of that when I attended Chicka Dixons Funeral a while ago.Surely it wasn’t a covert information gathering exercise ?

The homeless people attending were in by and large the identified homeless- those who already regularly use the existing services.

Conspicuously absent were the homeless Asian communities, many of whom are known to be homeless and unemployed in the CBD. Between leaving SHC Town Hall and blogging I went and asked some why. Embarassment, and a lack of communication skills were some of the pro-offered reasons from the Vietnamese and Khmer communities.For the Chinese and Koreans the issue was “there is nothing we can do for them,so we can’t accept help from them.”

The events timing meant that the working homeless, a good few of whom work just across the road at Woolworths were also unable to attend due,obviously,to work commitments.

On the subject of cultural diversity,or a lack thereof, there seemed a disproportionate number of Polynesian people in evidence, many of whom are well known.Some discussion was heard of a proposal to work on Maori based initiatives for the Maori community in Sydney. If this cause resonates with you or your organisation, please contact this blog as we are able to pass on details.Dis-connection is a recurring symptom of the reasons leading to homelessness.

Of the organisations present we readily acknowledge the good work done by Lou’s Place (Womens Shelter), their table neighbours Big Issue, which have put more than $10million into the pockets of Australian homeless on the very admirable “a hand up,not a handout basis”.

New kid on the Sydney City homelessness block Neami were well and professionally represented. I spoke with their very passionate and committed homelessness co-ordinator, who didn’t just wake up one day and decide to run a homelessness service. Constrained by their contractual obligations and available resources, Neami have the job ahead of them convincing the Street that they are relevant capable and/or even interested- a legacy of the empty promises by a kaleidoscope of prior NGOs whose self interest was at the fore of their relationship with street people. They are off to a fair start having hired a couple of ex street people as staff and the street jury is still very much out on what, and at what value they can deliver.

The City of Sydney under Mayor Clover Moore has been more “homeless friendly”, than the previous Sartor / Turnbull administrations. I would like to see City of Sydney (and councils nationwide) take on more responsibility for the provision of social housing in their respective areas-in fact I’d like to see social housing via government managed as a partnership between Federal and State Government,without NGOs,without State Government. While acknowledging City of Sydneys current role,responsibility to ratepayers et al, it would be nice for our homeless community to be recognised as residents and given resident rated access to some of the council facilities, such as Cook & Phillip Park, which has conveniently located showers for many.

I will also mention The Footpath Library and Clothesline as providing useful non-housing services. Jesus Cares people were seen and are acknowledged for their longtime commitment to providing nourishment from their foodvan services, totally unfunded by government or without any major sponsorship.I’m unsure if they were an official participant or not. Anyone looking to donate to any of these can be assured their donation is not squandered on admin, r&d and consultants -which is more than can be said for the rest of the participants thus far unmentioned.

As far as I can tell,the rest of the participants are mainly about attaching their organisational siphon to the Fed and State government tanks, brimming with over six billion dollars – which they undoubtedly intend to take in the name of providing homelessness services.

I did not see one organisation there with the immediate capability to provide affordable (or any) houses. And affordable, appropriately located configured and leased housing is the only solution to a housing crisis. Other services, some of which homeless people undoubtedly need,should not be considered as part of “the homelessness problem.” Its a lot like a dentist wanting to cure your toothache as part of your financial restructuring process-you do need your teeth done,but the issue is financial . Supported Assistance is not an agreeable option for all. Not many appreciate the invasiveness of the SAAP model. Not that it shouldn’t be offered-but not as part of a housing program. Critically, SAAP should not be the only choice available to homeless people as an entry level option.

I remind all that the solution to an affordable housing shortage is sustainable incomes replacing wageslavery and ummm.. more appropriate affordable housing where people want to live. One cannot solve a housing crisis with massages and toothbrushes.There are some alternatives to housing (such as mobile home ownership) which are cheaper to fund and will suit some people with highly mobile work or lifestyle needs. But SAAP or other supported accommodation is an expensive way of funding the same failed parasites who have bludged in our name for decades.

Overall, a great opportunity for opportunists to massage the wallets of potential donors in the leadup to the end of the financial year. A wonderful opportunity for the poverty industry to indulge in some ego massage. Neami get to meet their target clientele. A large number of homeless get a free feed and lots of free stuff.But its not really free,is it? Somewhere someone has had to pay for it all, and the person who has the least say in spending, pays the most.That person is you-the taxpayer.

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