Community plan launched to address Toowoomba’s ‘shameful’ homelessness problem

It has taken 12 months of dedication and hard work, and this week local community leaders have delivered a local plan to address Toowoomba’s hidden youth homelessness problem.

Every night, approximately 130 young people are living on Toowoomba’s streets as the 11 beds set aside for the city’s homeless youth are always full.

The End Youth Homelessness Round Table group, which is made up of representatives from TAFE Darling Downs, Yellow Bridge, Emerge, United Synergies, Downs Group Training, Australian Red Cross, Mission Australia and Lifeline Darling Downs, today delivered a three-year plan to end youth homelessness in the Toowoomba region by 2024.

“To just put a young person in a house isn’t going to solve anything,” End Youth Homelessness Round Table Leader, Penny Hamilton, said.

“There are a whole lot of other challenges that need to be addressed along with housing.

“There is a shameful problem in Toowoomba, and we came together thinking ‘how can this continue? We need to find the solution ourselves’.

Unit complex to be purchased

The first year of the plan involves acquiring funding to supply accommodation for 90 people with a target for 75 per cent to transition into the workforce and the rental market within 12 months.

Initially, almost $650,000 will be needed to invest in a unit complex and lease arrangements.

Yellow Bridge Toowoomba CEO, Penny Hamilton, will lead the End Youth Homelessness Round Table.(Supplied: Yellow Bridge Toowoomba)

A further $160,000 will be required for specialised staff support and $30,000 to buy a car.

With no government funding on offer, the group will use the plan to attract local businesses to support the initiative.

Any extra money raised would be invested in an employment training program for homeless youth in the second and third years of the plan.

“Research tells us that young people experiencing homelessness are less likely to complete their education, find secure employment or forge healthy habits and relationships,” Ms Hamilton said.

“It also shows they are more likely to experience mental illness, substance abuse, prejudice and poor health.”

Homelessness awareness

This week is homelessness week, a time when all levels of government are asked to do more to solve the growing problem.

This three-year plan is by local people to solve a local issue.

“I do not believe it is a full government responsibility. There are so many demands on government funds,” she said.

“I am confident the plan will be done. It must be. When you see the young people, they really want to be part of a community and contribute. I believe we have no choice.”

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