Suffering in isolation? Think of the homeless

A place to call home: Rev George Capsis (right) and Russell Kinred (left) of Community Outreach Ministries with clients at the hostel at Ascot Place, Miranda. Picture: John Veage
A place to call home: Rev George Capsis (right) and Russell Kinred (left) of Community Outreach Ministries with clients at the hostel at Ascot Place, Miranda. Picture: John Veage

While the community struggles with self-isolation in their own homes, growing numbers of homeless are facing the coronavirus pandemic alone on the streets.

Community Outreach Ministries have three homes in Sutherland Shire which shelter or help the homeless and are struggling to meet the increased demands for help.

Their Miranda home has nine rooms, Woolooware 13 rooms and Cronulla four rooms.

"We are at full capacity," said Community Outreach Ministries' Rev George Capsis said.

"The reality is this virus has exacerbated the homeless problem. It has made it harder for people to get low-cost housing.

"Numbers have gone up and there's even more people needing help," Mr Capsis said.

"These are genuine people who don't want to be homeless and can't afford to pay rent," he said.

Mr Capsis is witnessing first-hand the increased numbers of homeless.

"There is Renae (names have been changed) who is 38 and sleeping in one of the sheds in the park at Gunnamatta Bay," he said.

"She has been homeless for a while and is very vulnerable.

"We know of another three people sleeping in the park.

"Ron, 30, has been sleeping in his unregistered car at Lilli Pilli Baths. The police had his car towed away and we had to get his car back for him.We have had it registered so he can sleep in it again.

"John, 49 sleeps in the garage at our Miranda House. He has mesothelioma and emphysema.

"He's supposed to report to the police in Shellharbour but because of this virus he is finding it difficult to travel down there."

Mr Capsis said that some of the homeless have been able to get their lives back on track.

"Joel, 36, was living in a car at Grays Point and is now at our Miranda house and has got a job," Mr Capsis said.

"He lost his job because of the coronavirus affecting business. But they were able to give him his old job back because of the government's Job Seeker program."

Mr Capsis said there is not enough room to house everybody but he tries to help as much as he can.

"If we haven't got a room for them and they have a car then they can shower at one of our homes and we can provide them with blankets."

Kel Milson,50, has been living at the Community Outreach Ministries' Woolooware home for the past two years between stints in hospital.

Mr Milson was a butcher but gave up work when he had to have his leg amputated several years ago after a suffering a spider bite and developing a severe infection.

He now has a compromised immune system which has required numerous stints in hospital.

"My white cell count is .034. Anything going around I get," he said.

He was able to get a job as a butcher but he had to give it up when he became sick.

"It's not that I didn't want to work. I had a job lined up but had to go into hospital for five months.

"I've got knocked back several times after I applied for the Disability Pension. They said my disability doesn't affect my ability for work,' he said.

Mr Milson is now on Job Seeker.

"Homelessness is a big problem everywhere. It doesn't get the attention it deserves," he said.

"The problem with trying to find a place is that many homeless people don't have a rental record.

"Since I was 19 I owned my house until I broke up with my wife. I paid a mortgage for 25 years so why should I need a rental record?

"You can go from the penthouse to the s..thouse very quickly.

"Not everybody out there who is homeless is doing drugs or is a bad person.

"Some of them are the greatest people you can ever come across."

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