The myth of entrenching homelessness with free services

FREE food, free showers, and even free laundry services.

These services catered to help the homeless has been criticised as entrenching homelessness by the media early this year.

The notion of well-meaning charities providing an abundance of services has made people want to stay on the streets, the article claimed. 

Melanie Raymond, Chair of Youth Projects Inc., shared her insights on the myth of entrenching homelessness through support services and reducing harm for homeless people on the streets.  

“I think entrenching homelessness is when you don’t provide the support services,” said Ms. Raymond in a talkback forum on the increasingly visible homeless in Melbourne and around Victoria.

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The Living Room at Hoiser Lane

The Living Room, launched by Youth Projects Inc., is a Primary Health Service in central Melbourne that provides free healthcare and support to homeless and disadvantaged individuals.

Ms. Beth Bartolo, one of the Practice Coordinators at the facility, said the objective is to offer a safe haven the homeless can turn to, while catering to their basic needs.

The material aids provided free are donations from the public, and simple foods such as coffee and toast are offered during operating hours, Ms. Bartolo explained.

In a radio interview with Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army, he addressed the issue of overwhelming generosity from the public that sends a message between the fine line of helping and harming.

“There’s a fine line between entrenching homelessness, and alleviating homelessness,” said Major Nottle.

Major Nottle also said the public can help by donating to welfare agencies that work with the homeless instead.

Ms. Raymond also addressed this issue in the talkback forum.

“We can’t be misdirected, in that making someone more comfortable for one night is not ending homelessness,” she said.

“The longer term solutions need to be our focus as well, we are not fixing homelessness by having a large quantity of material aid available.”

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