Homeless need a safe haven

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AS the rate of homelessness continues to climb, Frankston Council is being urged to provide a designated “safe area” where people with nowhere to live can sleep over night.

A letter sent to Frankston councillors proposes using Crown land next to Seaford Beach Caravan Park to allow homeless people to sleep with “some degree of safety and protection”.

The council recently alerted the caravan park operator the lease on Crown land on which about 20 cabins are located would not be renewed, with a car park planned for the site.

Frankston Council’s acting chief executive Gillian Kay told residents that would have to vacate by 31 March next year.

Many of the affected residents are considered to be at high risk of homelessness, having been referred to the caravan park by emergency housing agencies.

Community activist and Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands member Matthew Mitchell said the council should extend its support for efforts to assist homeless people to its logical conclusion.

“Council is to be commended for supporting Cr Glen Aitken in donating $1065 from his discretionary fund to help provide swags for the homeless,” Dr Mitchell wrote.

“Given that there are so many homeless people in the community, and certainly many of these are in Frankston, perhaps council could go further in assisting the recipients of these swags by providing a designated ‘safe’ area where they could sleep in these swags?

“One possibility is the Crown land area next to Seaford Beach Caravan park, the lease for which has been held by the caravan park, and which reportedly the council is now terminating so as to use the land for other community purposes.”

He said given the fact the termination of the lease was likely to contribute to homelessness with residents being displaced, using the site to provide a safe camping area “would seem appropriate”.

“I sincerely hope that council will seriously consider the use of this Crown land, or of another appropriate site, for the purposes of accommodating homeless people in the swags provided by City Life and others.

“With the aid of groups like City Life, such a site could offer homeless people some degree of safety and protection and would most likely make it easier to deliver help and services to at least one group of homeless people within the Frankston area.”

Dr Mitchell said that while he had held some discussions with Cr Aitken about the homeless situation, he was yet to hear back from councillors.

A level of confusion remains over how many resident of the caravan park will be forced from their homes.

The park’s operator has indicated that about 50 cabins housing 80 people would be removed.

However, a letter to residents signed by Ms Kay states that only about 20 cabins on Crown Land managed by council were affected.

“Council understands there are a number of mixed messages being circulated about the current situation,” the letter states. “We assure you Frankston City Council is still, and has always been, committed to residents being re-housed.”

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