Homelessness services in 'cost-cutting' exercise

HOMELESS people could be left out in the cold this winter due to significant cuts in government funding to local refuges.

Cutbacks were announced on June 13 as part of the State Government's Going Home Staying Home reforms. Homelessness service providers across the NSW receiving funding will drop from 336 to 149.

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW will take responsibility for a single, centralised Illawarra service linking clients to other support services.

Warilla Women's Refuge and Wollongong Women's Refuge will merge, providing services for women and domestic violence. The new organisation will be called Supported Accommodation and Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra, and will take over some of the operations and housing stock of Wollongong Women's Housing.

Homelessness services in the region have been split into nine "service packages" based on their location (Illawarra or Shoalhaven) and likely clientele (youth, family, women).

Wollongong Emergency Family Housing and Shoalhaven Youth Accommodation will fold, and the cuts could also mean the closure of Wollongong Homeless Hub, on Crown Street.

Wollongong Women's Housing runs 30 properties. Wollongong manager Loekie Klevjer said "literally thousands of families" had used the service.

"It's been a solid organisation with great outcomes. The government has changed the way they want to organise homelessness organisations, and the small organisations are no longer their preferred option for doing that," Ms Klevjer said.

"There's some vague offer of an 18-months possible project but the details on that are to be filled in by us and the department.

"With this whole reform, not one homeless person is going to better off. It's a purely cost-cutting exercise."

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