The Illawarra has among the highest number of rough sleepers in NSW and the Salvation Army is urging those in danger of becoming homeless to contact them before it’s too late.
The 2011 census showed the highest numbers of rough sleepers in NSW were in Sydney City, Richmond-Tweed, the Central Coast and Illawarra. Our region also had one of the highest populations of homeless people living in supported accommodation services.
The Salvation Army has helped 107 Illawarra homeless individuals and families this year.
‘‘In the Illawarra it can be quite bad because particularly young men are couch-surfing and not knowing from day to day where they will sleep at night,’’ Salvation Army regional public relations co-ordinator Karen Walker said.
‘‘Some are sleeping in cars, some in tents, in caravan parks but now because the holiday season’s coming they’re forced to move out because the camping fees increase for the Christmas period.’’
The Salvation Army offers financial counselling and the emergency relief vulnerable persons’ program provides a limited number of beds.
Ms Walker said people were struggling with the rising costs of living and found it difficult to pay rent.
‘‘We’re trying to get people to pay rent first and come see us for assistance with other bills – try to keep them in a house and for them not to become homeless,’’ she said.
The Salvation Army welfare centre in Ellen Street, Wollongong, can help with food, clothing, bills and providing Christmas toys for children. Call 42251372.
To donate to the Salvos Christmas appeal call 137258 or visit Westpac. Unwrapped toys can be left at Kmart Wishing Trees at Figtree and Shellharbour.