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Women Pay to Park in Driveways as Homelessness Crisis Grows

Jun 4, 2024

Local charity, Hawkesbury Helping Hands (HHH), has reported a disturbing increase in the number of people seeking safe places to sleep overnight. Co-founder Linda Strickland highlighted the dire situation facing many in the community.

Strickland said that a significant number of individuals, predominantly women, are approaching residents to park in their driveways overnight, offering to pay up to $25 per night. These individuals rely on the charity for meals and showers.

“People, predominantly women, are asking if they can park in driveways overnight, willing to pay just to feel safe and sleep at night. They arrive at dusk and leave by morning, then come to us for food and showers,” Strickland wrote on HHH’s Facebook page.

There have also been instances of people asking to pitch tents in backyards, offering payment for minimal amenities such as access to a toilet. These individuals depend on the charity for basic needs like food and hygiene facilities, she said.

Strickland also said they had heard reports about the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, noting that some people are capitalising on others’ misfortune.

The community response to Strickland’s post was significant, with many sharing their own stories and others offering to help.

“A friend of mine is couch surfing at the moment with family. She is a single mother who recently left a domestic violence situation and can’t get a rental anywhere. Every open house has over 50 applications,” one comment said.

Another commenter shared: “My family of seven has to vacate our house because it’s been sold. Rental prices are ridiculous, and real estate agents are not being kind. We have until Wednesday to vacate and have nowhere to go.”

“I finally get it. I’m a 56-year-old woman. No one wants to hire me. I’m too old for everything. Centrelink won’t give me anything as my husband can support me. What a joke. 36 years of working and I’m worth nothing. It’s so degrading,” another comment read.

Some community members offered assistance: “If there are any ladies that need a safe place to park for the night at no cost, our home has cameras and dogs for security. You’re welcome to park here for a good night’s rest.”

“If I can help in any way, I have land, and women are welcome to stay at no cost. No one should feel scared,” another Facebook commentator wrote.

In response to the growing issue of homelessness and domestic violence, a new pilot program in Newcastle offers a car park for women and children to sleep in overnight. The initiative, running from April to June, aims to provide a temporary safe haven for those in desperate need.

Nova, a housing assistance service supporting women and children fleeing domestic violence, has been actively referring individuals to this program.

NSW Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Rose Jackson, expressed deep concern over the situation. “It is unacceptable that this is what we have come to. I don’t want to see women and children sleeping in cars because that is the only safe place for them.”

Jackson said there was an urgent need for more long-term solutions. “We desperately need more long-term social housing for women and children leaving violence. For many, sleeping in cars is a temporary solution, but they need permanent housing.”

 

 

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