I am watching The Project (Australian current affairs program with humour). The Lord Mayor of Melbourne was explaining his council’s decision to ban camping in the CBD of Melbourne. He did an atrocious job because he became angry which came across as extreme arrogance.
Their proposal is that in the first instance, the ‘campers’ aka ‘the homeless’ will be approached by police and welfare officers, and asked to move on with ‘support’. On the second occasion, their belongings will be confiscated, and ultimately, down the track “there will be consequences” such as a fine.
Homelessness is such a complicated issue. Most major cities are peppered with homeless people living on the streets; Sydney definitely is, and it is heartbreaking.
And with so many empty houses bought by investors, homelessness really makes no sense. But to approach it the way that Melbourne Council has, is deplorable. It revictimises and stigmatizes the homeless more than they already are by criminalizing their homelessness.
The Project offered the alternatives provided by Utah and Vancouver for viewers to consider. In Vancouver, a 1% tax was added to empty house property taxes to help with housing, whilst in Utah, over a decade homelessness was reduced by 91% by offering more public housing and then services to support rejuvenation/education. Utah’s practice seems like a brilliant solution.
Whenever I hear people say that the homeless can’t sleep on the street, I become agitated.
Where are they meant to go?
If they could find/afford/access housing, I’m sure that most would. Especially in the extreme temperatures here in Summer. To move them on, criminalizing and stigmatizing their behavior seems utterly ridiculous.
What is our world coming to. This type of issue really brings the left wing out in me. Grrrrrr …