Local and state governments are locked in a stalemate over the establishment of a 'tent city' in Sydney CBD's Martin Place.
The stalemate follows a war of words between Lord Mayor Clover Moore and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. The Lord Mayor sparked the disagreement by refusing to support moving homeless and vulnerable people from public spaces, "without being sure they have the support and housing they need to get back on their feet."
The Premier then responded by chastising the Lord Mayor for 'politicising' the issue and claiming that Cr Moore was 'playing games' with people's lives.
A solution will be debated at a City of Sydney council meeting on Monday night.
Tenants of the homeless refuge were evicted several weeks ago before a proliferation of tents popped up bringing the issue of homelessness in the city under the spotlight.
They remain frustrated at the authorities response to homelessness in NSW.
One resident, Troy*, believes that what's happening in Martin Place is a result of government not prioritising homelessness.
Young people need a voice and someone to stand up for them
“Politicians look at this shelter as a problem. They say that we take up too much space and that we need to go. I say this isn’t a problem: this is a solution. The government just sees it as a problem because they couldn't come up with anything better themselves.”
Troy is 18 years old and is the youngest person in the Martin Place community. He has been homeless in Sydney for the past five months and says having a space where people who are homeless can talk is really important, especially given youth homelessness is on the rise.
“Young people need a voice and someone to stand up for them. We are the next generation of homeless and the government doesn't have a solution about what to do with us."
According to Homelessness NSW, there are over 28,000 people experiencing homelessness in NSW alone. From 2015-16, more than 18,400 young persons accessed homelessness services, which accounts for 20% of total clients.
CEO of Homelessness NSW, Katherine McKernan, says that there needs to be a focus on preventing homelessness in young people and providing social housing.
"What we need is 100,000 social housing properties in the next 5 years with a strong funding commitment from government. Statistics show that providing affordable housing is the most successful solution available. 90% of tenants don't go back to the street and it saves $13,000 per person per year to house them rather than have them on the streets. In NSW, we just don't have a plan for homelessness."
McKernan also argues that the number of homeless Australians sleeping rough, such as those at Martin Place, is just the tip of the iceberg.
"Australians sleeping rough make up just 6% of the total homeless population as we've seen an increase in couch surfing and sleeping in cars. We need to focus on all aspects of the problem to prevent homelessness and a great way to achieve this is by working with schools and making families safer."
August 7 also marks the first day of Homelessness Week 2017 and although groups such Homelessness NSW believes that communities such as Martin Place are not a satisfactory answer to homelessness, the group believes no action should be taken to evict people until a suitable alternative is in place.
Just what a 'suitable alternative' looks like remains a key question going into Monday nights council meeting at Sydney Town Hall.