Locals respond for homeless

By SAM BENGERsamb@gladstoneobserver.com.au

LOCAL welfare agencies are astounded by the response from the Gladstone community in offering accommodation to the homeless, but warn they could not recommend private homes to those in need for fear of liability.

Community Advisory Service tenancy advice worker Ray Chapman said a number of good samar-itans had offered accommodation for homeless people.

"While it is a generous offer, it is also fraught with implications and would in most cases not be in the best interests of one or both parties,'' he said.

Mr Chapman said he would be "reluctant'' to refer a homeless person to a private home because of a lack of knowledge about the history of the person making the offer and that of the homeless person.

"Although well-intentioned, there is no screening process in place and we would have to warn anyone who may try to take in a homeless person that it would be their responsibility and at their own risk,'' he said.

He also suggested that while cash donations were useful to welfare organisations, accommodation for the homeless would require a substantial amount of funding, and community members would be better off lobbying government.

"If people want to do anything then they should lobby Members of Parliament or write a letter to the Minister of Housing ? that would be more appropriate than opening their own homes,'' he said.

Mr Chapman said Gladstone was in need of a homeless shelter, and in recent weeks the Community Advisory Service had received a number of requests for accommodation.

The Salvation Army corps officer Major Bill Hutley said the fact that people in the community had offered accommodation to the homeless was a generous step, but that in order for anything to be offered, each case would need to be investigated individually.

"If we felt that someone might be suited to going into a private residence then we would need to be able to sit both parties down and allow them to talk it through ? it would have to be done on an individual basis depending on need and perceived suitability,'' Major Hutley said.

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