17 June, 2022

Calls for community action on homelessness

HOMELESSNESS is a community issue, and needs a community response, is Caboolture couple Susanna and Howie Leece’s view of the ongoing housing crisis.

Susanna and Howie Leece are calling for community action on homelessness
Susanna and Howie Leece are calling for community action on homelessness

“We own our own home, so this doesn’t affect us directly, but this is a community issue, not a State or Federal issue,” Mrs Leece said.

“We are members of a community group, we do what we can to help, but we have got to get people talking.”

Mrs Leece said there is not enough public housing being built, and would like to see that increased to meet demand.

Instead, the couple proposed a solution where homeless people could be trained to become ‘employable’.

“If you give them a chance to work, there is a better chance for them to get somewhere to live,” Mr Leece said.

“We know there is a shortage of tradespeople, why not empower people, give them an opportunity to learn a trade, to help build their own house, and then they have a chance to secure employment, as well as somewhere to live.”

Mr Leece said in his last role, as a security guard, he saw ‘a lot’ of homeless people in the Caboolture area, and wanted to see more done to help them.

“When we lived in Canberra previously, we saw the Salvos running weekly food drops, they also had a hostel, but we would still see people sleeping rough,” Mr Leece said.

The couple helped run a weekly soup kitchen with other volunteer members of their church, but recognised it was only a small step.

“I have written to Ali King, the State MP for Pumicestone, but this is more than just a State Government issue,” Mrs Leece said.

While Ms King replied with a list of future State Government projects, Mrs Leece said there needs to be more action.

“We still have homeless people.”

Citing the Federal government’s ‘unbudgeted’ assistance to the Ukraine, in the wake of the Russian invasion, Mrs Leece said there needed to be ‘unbudgeted’ assistance for homelessness.

“Winter is here, Caboolture is already down to single digits, we are giving people a flu shot, but with nowhere to go, there is a real risk of having a pandemic on the streets if we don’t fix the problem.”

Mr Leece said the problem was not just people who were unemployed and homeless, but there were many people, with jobs, who were facing losing their homes because of increases in the real estate market.

“I saw a family rigging a temporary house at the Caboolture Hub, because they couldn’t move into their house for a few days.

“They had nowhere to stay for those few days, this is a widespread problem, don’t sweep homelessness under the table.”

Mr Leece said police officers would issue ‘move on’ orders to people living rough, but they had nowhere to go.

“It is just moving the problem from one place to another.”

Getting on to community housing waiting lists was another problem, Mrs Leece said, with reports people are required to apply for at least 30 private rentals, before they could even be considered for a Housing Commission property.

“We have been told that is normal practice, but where are they supposed to live in the meantime?”

Mrs Leece said she started a Facebook group ‘Homeless Movement Moreton Bay Qld’, to connect with others wanting to help improve the situation.

“We want to put the call out, to meet with other people as concerned about this as we are, and try to get some genuine action to help homeless people in our area.


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