Wednesday 3 March 2010

Homeless in the CBD

I have been walking around the CBD a bit of late, and for some odd reason, I decided to photograph all the homeless people that I see every day. I went up George St and down Pitt St.

Two young blokes in a doorway on Pitt St.

George St.

George St, right outside the QVB.

George St.

Begging station abandoned and going begging.

There were three blokes that I failed to photograph. One hangs around at the St George bank on Market St, along with two dogs. He was there at lunch (when I didn't have the camera) but gone when I went past a bit later. I also missed a mad looking bloke who was walking towards me on George St - I was too slow with the shutter. The third bloke was on the other side of George St - I couldn't be bothered crossing the road to get a snap of him, and a bus pulled up and blocked my shot from across the street.

I didn't bother going all the way down to Central where there is a fairly dense collection of winos.

There are supposed to be 461 homeless people in the CBD. Today, I counted 11 of them, and I covered a reasonable stretch of CBD (I walked nearly 4km whilst taking these photos). Only 450 left to go. The 11 I counted represent 2.4% of the homeless, yet I covered what I would consider to be at least 10% of the CBD.

Some thoughts:

Whoever counted 461 homeless must have had a broader definition of "CBD" than I do. I can accept the total of 461 if you include Rushcutters Bay and Kings Cross and all the way down south of Central. I think of the CBD as that bit of land with really tall office buildings on it. If you are not surrounded by tall office buildings (not apartment buildings - office buildings, as it is a business district) then you are not in the CBD.

Lots of homeless people must have somewhere out of sight to hang around during the day. I wonder where they go?

Most of the visibly homeless that I see around the CBD hang out in high pedestrian traffic areas (like George St), as those are the best spots to beg for money. The more passing punters, the more chance you have of getting a coin. I often find myself in the quiet by-ways of the CBD, and the homeless are nowhere to be found.

Not many of them smell. I know what it is like to be filthy dirty, sleeping in your clothes and boots at night, getting wet and muddy and not having a chance to wash or change your clothes for a couple of weeks. Plus sweating like crazy day and night. Nothing stinks like socks that have been worn for a week with no chance to get the boots off. After a few days, you absolutely reek. The thing is, as those around you stink as well, you don't notice. Either my nose is past its use-by date, or most of the homeless are having a wash on a regular basis.

On the other hand, there is the odd one that I see (or smell) that has clearly crapped in his pants.

Of the 11 that I saw today, 8 looked completely crazy. I'm talking wild-eyed, sunken faced, muttering to yourself loon type crazy. 40 years ago, we would have slapped them in a mental institution and left it at that. However, 3 looked young and fit and mentally together. I can understand the loons having problems getting their act together and signing a lease and drawing the dole and so on, but the other three - they were a different story. It makes you wonder what happened for them to end up like this....

Kevin Rudd has said he is going to halve homelessness. If I walk the same route in a few years time, will 5 of these 11 have a roof over their head?

I doubt it. And if they do, knowing this government, it will probably be on fire.


Anonymous said...

do you have any suggestions about what could be done BoB?
BTW just asking x

kae said...

40 years ago there were mental institutions to slap them into, for their own safety!

What to do? Well, some like to be homeless, or they suffer from mental illness and it's just too hard to organise accommodation.