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Katherine Doorways Hub re-funded for five years

But for hundreds of people, the Katherine Doorways Hub is a daily refuge from the hardships of homelessness.

“Everyone comes here, people living in the long grass, people who have come from out of town, they come here for tea, toast, a shower, washing,” Jennifer Crowson said.

“We need the Hub because people need help.”

Many others are on a list for housing, which has hundreds waiting in limbo for up to six years.

For Mrs Crowson, she comes to the Hub to do washing, because there is no washing machine at her home, she comes to talk, because sometimes there is no one else, and she comes for breakfast, because there is not always enough money to cover the bills.

On any given day, the Hub is bustling, with volunteers serving breakfast and lunch, and case workers linking people at risk or experiencing homelessness with other services.

Chronically underfunded, Katherine remains in a housing crisis with more people sleeping rough, per capita, than anywhere else in Australia.

The Northern Territory Government, late last year, released its most “significant plan in history” to tackle homelessness, and Katherine was lucky to receive a small portion of funding.

It secured the Hub for a further five years, while the Darwin CBD, Northern Suburbs and Palmerston are set to get three new short-term accommodation centres, modelled on the success of the Katherine Doorways Hub.

“Not only is it a positive recognition of the great work at the Hub, but it also shows it is important to have accommodation solutions for rough sleepers, providing them with access to services and a place to have a shower, do laundry and get connected with organisations,” NT Shelter executive officer Peter McMillan said.

The government’s five-point plan is backed by $8.9 million, of which very little is allocated to Katherine.

“What we don’t have in Katherine is any short term visitor accommodation,” Mr McMillan said.

“So we know the NT Government commissioned a rough sleeper survey a number of years ago which looked at Darwin and Katherine, but to date we haven’t seen any response to addressing the short term accommodation needs of rough sleepers in the Katherine area.

“That’s concerning to us, especially when Alice Springs has visitor accommodation, Darwin will be getting accommodation, and Tennant Creek will be getting visitor accommodation as part of the Barkley Regional Deal.

“Our concern is, in Katherine there has been no such response… We need to look at how we can provide similar infrastructure for the Katherine Region.”

He said the Hub’s collaboration with other services is making a “great deal of difference to the people that come to town who don’t have a place to stay“.

“Katherine’s rate of homelessness is certainly way up in the top league of homelessness rates.

“We know the Katherine Doorways Hub was used by the NT Government as an example for the model to be used in Darwin and the Northern suburbs – in October last year the NT Government announced an $8.9 million plan to tackle anti-social behavior and also provide accommodation and services for rough sleepers – three better pathway centres and three forms of short term accommodation.

“The model they are looking to implement in Darwin CBD is based on the Katherine Doorways Hub, that just goes to show a model that has been used well is being used as inspiration.”

The Salvation Army launched the Katherine Doorways Hub in 2017 as a pilot program.

Up to 100 people are seen every day at the Katherine Doorways Hub, and Michelle Hill has been coming to the Hub since it opened.

It was funded by the Northern Territory Government Department of Housing and Community Development under the Homelessness Innovation Fund for just one year, with further funding pending on success.

The Salvation Army’s Captain Julie Howard said the housing crisis in Katherine isn’t going be resolved anytime soon.

“For people who utilise the Hub, they appreciate a safe, calm space. It is getting hotter, so a cool place too,” she said.

“Providing the dignity of having a shower and washing clothes has a real direct impact.

“It is great the money has come to Katherine to continue doing this… because we are at a crossroads, we get so many people needing help.”

Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development Gerry McCarthy said the NT Government is supporting a range of social services that will lead to better education, health and employment outcomes as part of their strategy to address homelessness.

“Homelessness statistics in Katherine and the wider Territory directly relate to overcrowding in regional and remote Indigenous homes. The Territory Labor Government’s $1.1 billion remote housing program is having a direct impact on reducing homelessness in regional centres of the NT.

“This Government is delivering increased support for homeless people through a range of programs including the continuation of the Salvation Army’s Katherine Doorways Hub.”

The NT Government says it has approved building 13 new homes and improvements to dozens of existing public houses in Katherine as part of its $100 million Territory-wide Public Housing Stimulus package.

An NT Government spokeswoman said there will be six new dwellings on Martin Terrace, two on Casuarina Crescent and five on Bradshaw Terrace.

Original article available here.

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