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Homeless couch surfing and sleeping in crowded homes

HERVEY Bay's homeless population is more likely to be staying in severely overcrowded homes or couch surfing, rather than sleeping on the streets.

While they are more likely to be young, homelessness is also becoming an increasing problem among the city's older population as nest eggs disappear.

These are the issues the Queensland Council of Social Service has faced since the launch of its Homelessness Community Action Plan in Hervey Bay, which officially launched recently. Earlier this week organisers opened the first drop-in centre at charity We Care 2, the latest in a string of projects launched under the plan.

The drop-in centre will offer a place where people in need can go each Tuesday morning to access services from Centrelink, Centacare, Queensland Health, Home Stay and other support services.

The pilot program will run until next March and was partly funded by a coffee drive with Fraser Coast cafes earlier this year.

QCOSS Hervey Bay homelessness planning and coordinator officer Megan Smith said a youth card program, which would allow eligible young people to use the card to buy meals from participating businesses, was also in the pipeline.

Only a month after its long-term goals were first published, Ms Smith said one major aim of the action plan was to increase the profile of what homelessness is like in Hervey Bay.

"There is a perception that it is about rough sleepers," she said.

Ms Smith said most people in Hervey Bay would have had experience with homelessness or would know somebody who did.

One of the long-term goals of the action plan include finding a steady stream of fundraising to maintain support programs for those most at-risk.

And there are plenty of sympathetic residents.

"There is a lot of good will locally to address homelessness," she said.

Community Action Plan

The Homelessness Community Action Plan was officially launched last month, with the publication of its goals to 2020. Hervey Bay is one of seven places in Queensland to take part.

The action plan included support programs for men newly-released from Maryborough Correctional Centre to reduce the high number of single men who experience homelessness in Hervey Bay.

Goals for the next 12 years include preventing at-risk groups from losing tenancies in rental markets or community housing.

Other aims including supporting young people going from state care to living independently.

Visit communitydoor.org.au and search homelessness community action plan to view the full plan.

Topics:  hervey bay, homeless, queensland council of social service


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