Jenny Hill, mayor of Townsville in northeastern Queensland, recently took aim at charities that assist homeless people. Such charities “enable” homelessness, she charged.
Hill was addressing the portion of the city’s budget ($13.3 million) earmarked for public safety when she made the controversial comments.
“Providing food in the parks enables people to stay in the parks,” she argued, according to ABC. “Providing clothes washing in the parks means that many of these people that actually have a home, don’t go home and continue to stay in the parks — everything else they need is there.”
Hill appears to be contending that homeowners elect to live outside in public parks rather than inside their houses in order to take advantage of free laundry service. Assuming for a moment that someone who owns a house or rents an apartment actually takes their clothes to the park to be washed by a charity, why would they then stay in the park (sleeping on benches and so forth) instead of taking their freshly laundered clothing back to their own dwellings?
Is the homeless lifestyle so alluring?
Hill proceeded to state that she plans to visit a few organizations and “literally put them on the mat.”
“It’s not just a police response anymore in some of these areas,” she said. “It is about what some of these agencies are doing in enabling people to live a lifestyle without holding them accountable for their actions.”
The city’s police inspector, Glenn Doyle, isn’t exactly on board with Hill’s perspective.
“I don’t necessarily think they’re [the charities] doing any harm,” he said. “They certainly provide a service that’s required by these people and we support them in that activity.”
Doyle went on to point out that not all homeless people are “anti-social,” which is the psychological term for psychopathic:
“We need to bear in mind that those people that are homeless aren’t necessarily displaying antisocial behaviour or being involved in public nuisance offences. They’re displaced from their homes for different reasons and we work with different community groups and partners to address those issues.”
Take advantage of Townsville’s luxurious clothes-washing services while you can—they may soon be revoked, at which point all those “homeless” folks will have to vacate the parks and return to their own beds. I jest, of course.