Local homeless outreach coordinator shares urgent insights from frontlines

Wendi Rampton out on the road

The dedicated founder of Campsite Rescue and coordinator of Homeless Outreach Sunshine Coast is sounding the alarm on the escalating homelessness crisis in the region as she shares insights from the frontline.

Wendi Rampton joined local businessman and podcast host Mal Cayley in the studio for Episode 10 of the “Homes for Everyone” podcast to urge action in response to the escalating needs of Sunshine Coast residents facing homelessness.

Episode 10 – Mal Cayley and Wendi Rampton

For 7 years Wendi has visited John’s Landing – a place where people of all ages are living in tents without access to power or water – three times a week to donate meals and essential supplies to the residents.

Wendi’s outreach now goes way beyond John’s Landing as she receives an ever-growing number of calls a week from people living in cars, single mothers who are couch surfing with their children, and individuals who can’t afford to pay their bills while putting food on the table.

“Several years ago people used to assume the homeless are druggos, alcoholics or gamblers but now everyone knows someone who has struggled to find a rental so people are starting to put a face to homelessness.

“I’m seeing a growing number of aged people around 70+ who have probably been renting all their lives and now they’re in their cars, they’re very scared and they don’t know how to approach organisations like mine for help. It’s terrifying for them,” she said.

To combat the growth, Wendi has assembled a dedicated team of volunteers who join her in visiting and caring for the homeless living under bridges and in remote areas.

“We’d really like more options on how to help these people. The number one need is of course accommodation, food and safety so we would like somewhere to temporarily house people who are feeling vulnerable and offer them somewhere to stay where they can feel secure, with a hot shower and decent meals.

“We approached Council and asked them if we can open a carpark to house people who are living in their vehicles but Council gave it to another organisation who didn’t want it so therefore didn’t do anything with it,” Wendi added.

Homes for Everyone founder Mal Cayley said the latest census data shows that in two years the number of homeless people on the Sunshine Coast has doubled.

“This means there are almost 3000 people currently homeless or immediately about to be homeless on the Sunshine Coast.

“At this rate of increase, within the next few months 1% of the population will be homeless so it’s going to be at least a generation before we see that back in decline,” he said.

Mr Cayley said to fix this crisis, more needs to be done than deal with the symptoms.

“We have to deal with each of the causes which starts with APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority), the federal government, state government, council, community attitudes, planning, taxes and policies.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better but it can be solved if we tackle those things and if politicians and decision makers at every level have the courage to learn, understand and act,” he added.

The Homes for Everyone initiative is calling for people to put their digital hand up to join the growing voice that’s saying, ‘enough is enough’ and demanding real housing solutions to be delivered. Take 15 seconds to fill in the form at www.homesforeveryone.com.au so that the collective voice of the community can get the decision makers to pay attention and see real, positive changes achieved.

The Homes For Everyone podcast highlights the dire state of the Sunshine Coast housing market and the unexpected stories of heartbreak from the current crisis. Listen to the Homes For Everyone podcast on Spotify, iHeartRadio, Listnr or visit www.homesforeveryone.com.au

To find out more about Homeless Outreach Sunshine Coast visit www.homelessoutreachsunshinecoast.com/

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