Homeless hardship deepens

Two homeless communities on opposite sides of Logan have accused council of restricting their access to amenities, but the city’s mayor wants to set the record straight.

A newly installed gate at Tully Memorial Park in North Maclean means a longer walk to the bathroom, while a group staying at the Eagleby Wetlands has been cut-off from public showers.

Showers at the Olivers Sports Complex in Eagleby were closed more than a week ago, after council discovered they had been “used as toilets”.

However, those sleeping rough in the carpark said they are “paying the price” for someone else’s behaviour.

One tight-knit group said they were more than happy for council to impose a small fee to access the showers, which they hoped would reduce any destruction.

“We don’t mind paying $3 or $4 for a four-minute shower,” one man said.

“We’ve got money, just not enough to pay for rent and bills,” another added.

“A lot of outsiders are coming up here late at night and doing all the damage, and we’ve been repairing it – we don’t s**t in our own backyard.”

The group also claimed their access to drinking water was restricted after council turned off the park’s water fountains.

But Logan mayor Jon Raven said drinking water was available from multiple taps at the park.

“The toilets are open and there is water available,” Cr Raven said.

“The water was turned off for a couple of days a little while ago because people had been doing their dishes and laundry and the drains had gotten clogged with grease and other objects that aren’t meant to go down there.

“Once the drains were cleared the water was turned back on.”

Cr Raven said the showers were locked for two reasons.

The first reason was because the showers, which were installed for a disability group that “needs them in case of accidents”, were often “in a disgusting state” or out-of-order because they had been damaged.

The second reason was because of a recent spike in anti-social behaviour at the park, including public drinking, drug use and aggressive behaviour.

Two months ago, on 10 March, a man was stabbed in the carpark of the sports ground.

“This was making families feel like the park wasn’t safe for children to use,” Cr Raven said.

“When that starts happening council can’t turn a blind eye.”

The homeless group agreed recent guests, who only briefly stayed at the park or who didn’t stay at all, had made a bad name for the rest of them.

They said almost everyone else “governs and looks after each other”.

“It’s a society that works together, lives together and has the same aim,” one man said.

“I’ve seen so much love and community effort here.”

He spoke fondly of the bond the group shares, with some living at the complex for more than a year.

He said they cook together, clean together, laugh together and fix each other’s cars.

“We’re a family,” his wife said.

Cr Raven said local residents were “sick of the antisocial behaviour by the out-of-towners” staying at the park to use the free showers.

“The worst part is, people who are legitimately struggling with homelessness aren’t the ones causing the issues,” he said.

“It’s the backpackers and campers who are showing up with drugs, alcohol, fireworks and aggressive behaviour disturbing the peace in the neighbourhood.

“I suspect they’re also the ones who are using the showers as toilets and wiping faeces everywhere.”

Cr Raven said not everyone sleeping rough was ready to transition into housing, but council would help connect them to support services.

Last week a gate was erected at Tully Memorial Park to prevent people “parking cars along the path that leads to the toilet block”.

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