In 2017, the city of Melbourne proposed many harsh new laws that would criminalise homelessness. Working with 54 homelessness, legal and faith groups, and housing to present at the Melbourne City Council with some alternatives. Everyone wants to end the homelessness crisis, but it seems that harsh laws are not going to solve the problem.
was a proposal, over 2,000 organisations and individuals gave feedback to the
city of Melbourne. With a massive amount of 84% opposing those laws. By working
together, the changes were able to be stopped in their tracks, with the belief
that we can go one further.
Many things can be done to help homelessness in Melbourne:
Create clear guidance and belongings
Some places do have two bags, and one swag law and some have other restrictions on what people can have on the street. By offering guidance in Melbourne areas, the council can help to create a balance between what homeless people need and how the streets can remain accessible.
Provide storage and lockers for the homeless
Offering storage and lockers can help to reduce the belongings that are ket on the street. It provides people to have a safe place to store their possessions and documents to avoid damaged or them getting lost.
Offer more safe spaces to sleep at night
There are programs that we can expand to offer safer alternatives to sleeping rough on the streets. We can bring in more existing independent living services to help people find a more reliable, more permanent way to solve their homelessness
Work organisations to provide support teams on a daily basis
The council has specialised homeless outreach staff workers. These workers are allowed to form partnerships with the external homelessness agencies; they can connect with those who are homeless and coordinate some effective responses.
Open different avenues for collaboration
We know that homelessness services, businesses and those individuals who are going through homelessness are able to understand and collaborate. Training for the workers in the CBD who may encounter homelessness to help support them and give out informed responses to the appropriate youth services that are available.
Involve those going through homelessness in the solutions
Without being involved with homeless people and listening to their problems, we cannot come up with practical solutions. Engaging and consulting with those experiencing homelessness can help to inform and create possible solutions.
Do what works in other places and avoid what doesn’t work
Several approaches have been successful in different areas that the council can adopt. Some have seen the approaches taken by Utah has reduced homelessness by 91%.
Helping the public understand homelessness
People are exposed to homelessness each day they walk through the streets, but often they don’t understand the cause. Informing the public and helping them to understand what causes rough sleeping like systemic failures instead of individual choices will help them to have better-informed responses across the community.
If access to appropriate and affordable housing becomes available and there was a capacity to give the support teams more complex needs that are required to remain in-housed, we can reduce the number of people that are homeless to just a small group.
The City of Melbourne cannot solve the crisis alone. One thing we know is homelessness won’t get solved by bringing in a law to make it a crime to sleep on the streets.