Since the commencement of The Rudd-Gillard Labor Governments “The Road Home” Homelessness plan over a year ago, and the NSW State Governments “Reducing Homelessness in NSW” 2009-2014 Plan, we have seen many disillusioned homeless people enter the schemes devised to house homeless, stay a while, then end up back on the Street.We have noted numerous agencies,funded on the basis of the number of “services” they provide, jockeying to collect data from our homeless community members, dangling vague promises of “housing” while at best offering squalid overpriced and under-serviced death-traps and health-hazard zones as bridging accommodation.We have yet to identify a single long term tenancy secured for a homeless person in the Sydney CBD-which is where we live.

Spent much of this morning at a barbecue spot we use enjoying breakfast with 17 homeless guys who have tried, and rejected Federal/State Government Social Housing.7 were in Supported Accommodation Assistance Program placements, 10 in various State or Community Housing offerings. Here are their reasons for rejecting social housing options offered.

1/ NSW Dept of Housing had coerced the client into accepting an unaffordable private rental agreement in a boarding house, then told the client that they were housed now and therefore no longer eligible for Social Housing. (1 case).

2/ The social housing provided was in an unfamiliar area with difficult or expensive transport access. 3 continued to live at least part time on streets. (6 cases).

3/ I knew no one in the area and only got to see these outreach or social workers.The places they suggested I go were just other agencies.(4 people).

4/ If I wanted to live by jail rules,I’d just mug someone and go to jail. (1 person).

5/ I’m not going to shut the door and die in silence (1 person).

6/By the time I pay the bills I have nothing left.(9 people).

7/I’m not living by their rules (4 people).

8/ I can’t have my friends over (noise & accessibility a major factor) (11 people)

All of the above are currently homeless, on a form of Welfare, in the Sydney City Council area.4 say they have drug or alcohol histories (current or past).None stated a history of Mental Health. They are by no means the only homeless known to have rejected current social housing options.All agree that they want housing-but not subject to draconian terms and conditions.

In an informal group discussion a consensus description of Pay-to-Stay Jails was given to the pro-offered social housing options.The term was coined and universally applied by those who had rejected invasive SAAP programs.

13 of the 17 said that they were now much worse off as a result of participating in these programs. These 13 identified debts which they had incurred and would have to pay while living on the streets,such as expensive utilities. All agree that they have virtually no prospect of receiving further “government assistance”

There was almost universal agreement that what they received was not what was initially promoted to them. 1 SAAP client disagreed.

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