I feel encouraged that the so-called homeless camps in Martin Place make our leaders feel uncomfortable. I am deeply disappointed, however, that being confronted by homelessness is not sufficient to motivate political and policy action directed towards housing solutions.
A 24-hours “safe-space” facility is not a solution to homelessness; this facility is another form of homelessness accommodation. More homeless accommodation is manifestly inadequate. Unless secure and affordable housing can be provided, people’s homelessness will endure and they will make that homelessness visible to – and uncomfortable for – the public.
Forcibly moving people who have no housing from public space would be a deeply concerning regression into Australia’s disturbing history. Moving people on will do nothing whatsoever to address the problem. People are camping in Martin Place because we have insufficient affordable housing for them. The people may be inconvenient, but we need to respond to them by redressing the injustice that having no home represents. Bringing in the police to respond to poverty constitutes a threat to the values we hold as Australians.
When confronted with people sleeping in Martin Place, or anywhere else, we need to do two things.
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