Letter to the editor | Local homelessness a hidden but real issue

Lonely and Desperate Man is Sitting on the Ground in the Street and Asking for Help. An Honest and Kind Person is Approaching him and Giving him Money.

From Deanna Gunning, Longford

I WAS interested to read the article about homelessness (Gippsland Times 3/8), because I am aware that many people in our community have no idea what has really been going on.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 500 homeless people in Gippsland.
I did my own research and discovered that since COVID, this number is now closer to 650.
In Sale alone that number has been between 60 and 70.
This is appalling indeed.
When I approached two senior local government officials about the issue (along with some possible solutions) I was literally told “it’s not our problem.”
I heartily disagreed then, as I do now, because it is our problem. These homeless people are members of our community.
As I addressed the issue publicly, one woman even said on my candidate Facebook page, “I have never seen anyone sleeping in the streets around Sale so far…” to which someone else replied “I’m curious … just wondering if that means it isn’t happening because you haven’t seen it?”.
Sadly, many people think this way. Some of us may not have seen all the homeless in our region and in our towns, but I can assure you they definitely do exist and need us to take notice.
To pretend the problem is not there does not make it go away or remedy it.
I recently discovered that some places where the homeless were known to be were blocked off or dismantled.
This was done at the beginning of winter, which meant the homeless had nowhere to go to stay warm during the cold winter months.
It is obvious those involved wanted the homeless moved on elsewhere so they became someone else’s ‘problem’.
How heartless can people be?
I have been to each one of the homeless places myself, and have photographs to prove that what I am saying is true.
It’s time we put the heart back into our community and local authorities and consider that every person in our town – regardless of their status, race, or social standing — deserves to be heard, have a place to call home, to be a member of a community, and to receive a fair go.