The wheels are turning on Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre’s latest project to reduce the amount of men living without permanent housing.
The centre is currently fundraising for a Sleepbus to help close the gap and keep men off the streets.
Community development co-ordinator Mark Ellis says there is no accommodation on the Sunshine Coast for men, with the closest housing in Brisbane, Toowoomba or Maryborough.
“It’s near impossible for men to find permanent accommodation,” Mr Ellis says.
“We see a lot men sleeping in parks who them come to us beaten up. I began advocating for men’s accommodation about 4.5 years ago and this Sleepbus is an idea I’ve been throwing around for a while.”
The bus will sleep 17 to 20 men in Japanese-style pod beds with a television and the ability to accommodate pets.
Mr Ellis says everyone knows how difficult it is to function after a bad night’s sleep, so the first step is to remove that obstacle.
The bus will park in Maroochydore, allowing men to have a good sleep and a feed in the morning, but the main goal is for it to act as a process to permanent accommodation.
“We want to shift the process to focus on permanent accommodation,” he says.
“What we find is if these people don’t have a good night’s sleep, their cognitive function is really low. We want to stop the gap, get them to get on board and get some sleep.”
Mr Ellis says the men can work with local service providers to help determine their next steps.
While the number of people being homed is improving, the need for more accommodation is always there.
“Since COVID there have been quite a few who have been homed but there are always those who slip through the cracks.
“Last year we worked with 125 homeless people within the Maroochydore area, most of those were actually men.”
The centre is looking to raise $100,000 for the project and it has already secured a quarter of that, plus a bus to repurpose, which is pictured above.
“It seems like a lot of money but when you look at what is costs to maintain a person who is homeless, it costs about $25,000 per year,” Mr Ellis says.
Sunshine Coast local Jeremy Fletcher is also preparing to hike seven peaks for help raise money for the Sleepbus.
On November 29 from 5am to 5pm he will climb seven mountains in the Glass House region.
To find out more and donate, visit sleepbus.org/fundraisers/markellis.