A THOUSAND WORDS | A HOMELESS PROTEST FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

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by Charlotte Pordage

On May 10, a group of homeless protesters set up in camp in City Square after a recent police crackdown on people sleeping rough in the CBD.

 

The crackdown came after local resident Shaun Luk claimed his girlfriend had been hassled by a number of aggressive beggars. The protesters claimed that the media coverage portrayed the homeless as violent and that the police were moving them on every 5 minutes, despite knowing they had nowhere to go.

 

The Northsider headed down to City Square to find out what was happening and spoke with several members of the homeless community currently occupying the space. This multimedia essay  aims to put a human face on homelessness and help facilitate discussions on how to end this growing problem.

 

In the following video Danny Nepean, spokesperson for the group, talks about the conditions that drove the group to set up in City Square and what changes their presence hopes to bring about.

 

 

All too often, the complex socio-economic factors that give rise to homelessness are ignored and the people become the unwilling instigators of their own misfortune. Understanding homelessness and the people who have experienced it is the first step towards change.

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (8)

 

Allan Lang (pictured above) believes a proper housing body needs to be set up to prevent people from ending up on the streets in the first place. “I don’t want my grand-kids out here, I don’t want your kids out here, I don’t want anyone out here.” he said.

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (12)

 

The group is refusing to move until housing is provided and have not been satisfied with offers of short-term motels, saying that people will be forced to sleep rough again as soon as their week is up.

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (11)

 

Shaun Leslie Hughes is originally from Fawker and has been living in the streets most of his life. He explains that he avoids hostels because they are too expensive and can’t get a place of his own because he has no references.

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (14)

 

Orange Sky is a free mobile laundry service for the homeless. One Voice, the mobile shower bus, was also parked across the road, despite being given a $91 parking fine by Melbourne City Council the Friday before. The bus visits City Square regularly and has never been penalised but the council commented that the bus had been asked to move on numerous times and that the incident was “an issue concerning traffic flow and public transport which is a matter of safety during peak times.”

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (9)

 

Allan Lang said that the camp is a drug and alcohol free site, with all sleepers abiding by a strict code of conduct. He added that the protesters are, first and foremost, people. “We have compassion, we have empathy. We look after people- the other night a girl was being abused by her boyfriend, who took her purse. I bought her a Myki and a coffee and waited to make sure she got on her train home safely.”

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (3)

 

Homeless article - Rod Ceballos - May16 (17)

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