Sydney's Indigenous homeless say the Sydney storm has shown that the city is in desperate need of more low-income housing.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
22 Apr 2015 - 5:23 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2015 - 6:11 PM

The Indigenous homeless say the tumultuous Sydney storm is a timely reminder for local councils to provide better essential services such as low-income housing.

"It's a priority, housing for blackfellas, otherwise you're out in the doldrums," said homeless man Uncle Clarence Sibley outside Redfern Train Station in the city's inner west on Wednesday. 

"The last thing you want is rain when you're homeless because it's a very bad thing to look for shelter and believe me it’s not very nice, I’ve been there done that many times."

Uncle Clarence told NITV that a friend had offered him accommodation for the evenings of the storm that has been battering the city since Monday, but many others were not as lucky.

"I can understand why them people down at The Block [in Redfern are] campaigning…regarding housing. Campaigning for housing for blackfellas, we need it.

"We got to make sure we’re all off the streets and out of the rain."

The Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), based in Redfern and incorporated in 1973, says it want to develop affordable housing and retail space on land known as The Block in Sydney’s Redfern-Waterloo area through the Pemulwuy Project.

But protesters have set up an Aboriginal Tent Embassy on The Block because they are concerned that the commercial development may take priority over its plan for affordable housing.

"This is a symbol of a community that was thriving, that was healthy," said Aunty Jenny Munro, a lead protester at the tent embassy. "And we all hope and dream that it will come back to that, and that’s what the point of us is being here today, lasting through this weather.

"[Redfern] was famous for catering for our community, wherever they came from there was a bed, a feed and a friendly face here," Aunty Jenny added.

St Vincent's Health, a Catholic not-for-profit health and aged-care organisation in the city, said via Twitter that 365 homeless have been enduring the super storm comprising 100 kilometre-strong gusts and rain that have been pummeling in all directions from Illawarra to the Hunter region in the state of New South Wales.

Homeless people are unable to take refuge in areas that usually provide shelter. The City of Sydney tweeted on Wednesday that Hyde Park, home to some of the city’s homeless, was closed, and covers such as bus stops are insufficient protection this week.

Update

The City of Sydney says that it has been working with the homeless throughout the week.

"The City's homelessness team set up an emergency shelter at Abraham Mott Hall in Millers Point on Tuesday night as a sanctuary for homeless people caught out in Sydney's stormy weather," a City of Sydney spokesperson said. "City staff worked with Missionbeat, police and Family and Community Services throughout the night." 

The City of Sydney said it invests $1.4 million a year through NSW Family and Community Services to provide support for people experiencing homelessness.  It added that it assists the supply of social and affordable housing which is a state issue.

Additional reporting by Danny Teece-Johnson.