Queensland’s first sleep bus has arrived to offer emergency beds to homeless people on the Sunshine Coast, as support agencies struggle to help an avalanche of people caught in the housing crisis, ABC News reports.
The $100,000 bus has been financed from community donations through a campaign that began when homeless man David Collin was killed in his sleeping bag at Maroochydore in 2019.
Mark Ellis, the community development coordinator at the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, felt compelled to provide safe beds in an area that has no homeless shelter for men.
He said although the bus was not a long or even medium-term housing solution, it would give some respite to people in crisis.
“Because they’re so, so sleep deprived, you know, a few nights’ good sleep in a bed, their mental health will improve, which will improve their physical health,” Mr Ellis said.
Mr McNeill said he had been homeless for nearly five years after quitting his Bunnings job due to ill health.
He said Ross River fever from a mosquito bite developed into chronic fatigue, leaving him unable to work for more than an hour or two without needing to lie down.
“There’s some people out there who think, ‘Oh, you’re just a bum, but I’m not a bum. You know, I’m not … a well person,” he said.
Mr McNeill was on the public housing wait list and had been offered rental assistance, but he was unable to find an affordable rental in the current market.
He described the bus as “absolutely brilliant” and “a blessing from God”.
“It’ll give me the luxury of feeling safe when I’m sleeping,” Mr McNeill said.
The Maroochydore bus has eight double pods which can sleep eight single people or more if there are couples or relatives.
Sleep bus will be sanctuary for Sunshine Coast homeless in housing crisis (ABC News)
The sleep bus has eight pods with two beds each and toilets for the homeless. (Supplied: Sleepbus)