Candidate calls meeting to talk homeless funding

THE loss of youth and women-specific beds for the homeless in the Shoalhaven will be the focus of a public meeting in Nowra on Monday, August 25.

Labor candidate for South Coast Fiona Phillips has called the meeting at the Nowra School of Arts in response to the state government’s recently announced Going Home Staying Home tender reform which saw Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation and Nowra Women’s Housing miss out on funding.

“We need to retain youth-specific and women’s beds for the homeless in the Shoalhaven,” Mrs Phillips said.

“Shoalhaven Youth Accommo-dation has been providing services to young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness for 26 years with nine specific youth beds,” she said.

“The service also provides a variety of other services.

“The loss of funding for Nowra Women’s Housing means 10 less women’s specific homes for the homeless in the Shoalhaven.”

Representatives of local community organisations and shadow minister for housing and women Sophie Cotsis will address the meeting, which will start at noon.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock met recently with representatives of Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation and has asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, to visit the Shoalhaven and, in particular, the organisation.

Mrs Hancock previously dismissed claims the NSW government had made cuts to homelessness services across the South Coast.

She said the funding for homelessness service providers had been increased and for the first time, government funding had been received to provide integrated support for homeless men through St Vincent de Paul.

Mrs Hancock expressed disappointment over Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation losing the tender process, however said a $231,536 had been secured in additional funding for youth specific homelessness services on the coast to be delivered through Nowra based CareSouth.

“The NSW government’s Going Home Staying Home reforms are a win for those most vulnerable in our local community, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Mrs Hancock said.

“For the first time, resources will be allocated based on evidence, not history.”

She said the Illawarra Shoalhaven Family and Community Services (FACS) district would receive $6.97 million in 2014-15 – an increase of $1.04 million or 18 per cent from last year.

“The government has more than doubled the funding for youth specific homelessness services for those on the South Coast from $193,464 to $425,000 and any claim that beds are closing is simply a lie,” Mrs Hancock said.

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