Locals rally after death of homeless man in church grounds
THE death of a homeless man on the grounds of a Sunshine Coast church has sparked a phenomenal community reaction - and helped another homeless man reunite with his family.
Michael was the one who found his friend, Brett, on the grounds of the Stella Maris Church.
Efforts to save Brett were unsuccessful and the 31-year-old dad's death rocked the local community, and particularly Michael.
"Michael has been really struggling for the last few weeks with depression after finding Brett's body," Josh Whitehead told Rob Blackmore on the ABC Sunshine Coast's breakfast show.
"But Michael's family heard the interview and had no idea where he was sleeping.
"They contacted us at the parish office, his mother and brother came by and there has been an amazing intervention.
"They have showered him with love and he has agreed he needed to get off the street and his family agreed to take him in."
Mr Whitehead said the church had been given permission to share's Michael's story.
He also told of how another man walked into the Stella Maris Parish and gave $1000 towards the Friday night barbecues the church plans to run for the homeless.
The ABC's initial post on the death of Brett, one of about 30 homeless people living in and around Cotton Tree, sparked hundreds of comments.
Janet Daly wrote: "I spoke with Brett a little while back it was bitterly cold.. I had a warm blanket in my car... he was so appreciative of it..
"I brought him a coffee.. He was a real soft soul… a gentleman that shook my hand..
"He was telling me he was visiting to see if he was going to be taken into a place that week.
"RIP to yet another sad soul where life has taken him to the streets."
Many questioned why more wasn't being done for the homeless.
Some suggested individuals could play a big part by giving them food, coffee and other assistance.
The Sunshine Coast has a chronic shortage of emergency accommodation.
There are programs being run with government and church assistance, including The Shack in Nambour.
Others suggested there were plenty of empty buildings around to provide housing.
"Noosa TAFE Campus is falling down and could be a help in some way or another surely !!! As has Maroochydore got empty places Everywhere,'' one wrote.
Pete Anderson wrote: "We don't do enough for the homeless and destitute in this country, it's as though they don't exist at all.
"Instead we set up relief funds at the drop of a hat to any crisis that may occur overseas. It's snobbery to the highest level, something that shouldn't exist in this country.''
Others pointed out that soaring rents on the Sunshine Coast were only making it harder for some.
"Landlords (are) asking ridiculous rents just so they can negative gear them and this reduces the welfare budget.
"Everyone should be made to understand what welfare really is. Capitalism is not working for these 100,000 people in Australia alone.''
Others pointed to the millions being wasted on the same sex marriage postal vote which could be put to better use.
Another wrote: "There needs to be more halfway houses available that can help people get back on their feet, there should be govt subsidies for charities that want to get involved in helping the homeless, the homeless are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.''
Courtney Sutton said she had seen a surge in homelessness around Maroochydore in the past five years.
"As far as I know we have a place that has 20 beds or so to assist. No shelter. I see many men in their 30s or so and a heck of a lot of young people.
"The cost of living has risen dramatically and those without jobs and unstable living conditions are most vulnerable.
Kerrie Green offered this advice: Next time you see a homeless person sleeping in a corner at Cotton Tree or elsewhere, try buying them a coffee and breakfast burger. Could be the only meal of their day. We can all make a difference if we just take the time to notice."
Elliot Peters urged people to lobby their local MPs for action beyond just accommodation.
"Homelessness is a huge and very complex issue. A wide range of societal issues need to be addressed in order to address the problem itself.
"The experts and the homeless themselves have ideas and strategies to tackle the problem, let's support them to be heard and for action to be taken."