OFFER REJECTED: Paul Hefferan by the pool at the old Kookaburra Resort in Pialba which he says could be turned into housing for the homeless.
OFFER REJECTED: Paul Hefferan by the pool at the old Kookaburra Resort in Pialba which he says could be turned into housing for the homeless. Alistair Brightman

UPDATE: Man responds to claims hostel would not be suitable

UPDATE: A Hervey Bay man has written a letter responding to the Department of Public Works and Housing after he offered his empty hostel in Pialba as a homeless shelter and was told it would not be suitable.

In his letter, Mr Hefferan said the department had not been directly involved in an inspection of his building.

He said the building  was licensed and compliant with fire safety regulations.

He said any necessary modifications could be made to make it suitable.

To read his letter, click here.

EARLIER: AS 65 beds lay empty in his Pialba hostel, Paul Hefferan has been left wondering why the building can't be used to shelter the homeless.

The former Hervey Bay councillor has spent months contacting not-for-profit organisations as well as the Department of Housing and Public Works in an effort to offer the former Kookaburra Resort as a place to stay for those who need it most, but said he was told it wasn't suitable.

With hundreds on the waiting list for housing on the Fraser Coast, Mr Hefferan felt his hostel would provide much-needed shelter for the homeless.

New data showed that 175 people or families in Maryborough were on the waiting list for public housing at the end of last year, while there were 328 applications for long-term social housing in Hervey Bay.

Mr Hefferan said the hostel had previously been used by Centacare as a shelter for homeless men, but was now not in use.

He said with fewer backpackers coming to the Bay every year, he did not see the point in opening a commercial business.

Mr Hefferan said he would prefer to lease the building to a not-for-profit agency or the government in order to help others.

"I've been involved around here for a long time," he said.

"If you can help, you will."

Mr Hefferan said the building had current licences with the council allowing it to operate as a hostel.

But a spokesman from Department of Housing and Public Works said it was not that easy.

"We can confirm that the department recently received an offer to acquire the hostel in Charles St, Pialba and turn it into a shelter for domestic violence victims," the spokesman said.

"However, preliminary inspections found that it was unsuitable for this purpose."

The spokesman said the hostel was unsuitable for a number of reasons, including the age of the hostel and the need for extensive upgrades and maintenance to the building.

He said the configuration of the building was also unsuitable for domestic violence victims because they usually preferred self-contained accommodation and it was not suitable for people with mobility challenges.

Ian Clunn from Maryborough's Community Housing Ltd said while it was a generous gesture from Mr Hefferan, simply accepting an offer of accommodation for the homeless was more complicated than one might expect.

Community Housing operates a shelter for men in Maryborough's Queens St and Mr Clunn said it had to be staffed 24 hours a day, which was a huge funding burden for not-for-profit organisations.

He said there were also issues around ensuring the hostel had a functional kitchen.

Mr Clunn said it was possible the building would need modifying to make it suitable and it would need to be extensively checked for any fire hazards.

He said that last issue was made especially clear after a fire burnt down a men's homeless shelter in Maryborough in 2008.

Thankfully all 13 men at the residence escaped the blaze.

Mr Clunn said particular care was needed when it came to providing housing options for vulnerable people.

Waiting Game

As of the end of last year there were 175 people or families in Maryborough on the waiting list for public housing.

There are currently 328 applications for long-term social housing in Hervey Bay.

Would you like to see the building used to shelter the homeless? Join the conversation and tell us below



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