The man known as the “mayor of Martin Place” says a dozen residents of Sydney’s disbanded tent city have ended up back on the streets two days after the homeless community packed up.
Lanz Priestley said the group numbered about 60 when it voluntarily left the heart of Sydney on Friday amid a political stand-off between the City of Sydney council and the New South Wales government.
Priestley said 16 people had found shelter with friends or Facebook associates but about 12 were sleeping rough again in various places around the central business district.
Priestley said the group ran into problems accessing their belongings on the weekend despite an agreement that it would be available to them around the clock after being taken to a council depot.
“That fell through,” he said. “[The housing department] has put people into temporary or permanent accommodation with absolutely no gear.
“I think the assumption is that they will just go there and fend for themselves.”
But the City of Sydney council said its director of city operations had spoken with Priestley, who they said indicated he was happy with the arrangement.
“The city’s director of city operations spoke with Lanz Priestley to inform him that the depot would be open from 2pm to 5pm today and again tomorrow for property collection, and Lanz was happy with this arrangement,” a City of Sydney spokeswoman said.
Former camp residents were hoping to access their belongings on Sunday evening, however, Priestley said some people who had been offered accommodation found it unacceptable.
One man declined an “absolutely putrid” property that was cockroach-infested and had discoloured water coming out of the taps, Priestley said.
“It’s one thing to take people and put them into a house, they can’t actually take people and magically put them into a community,” he said.
Priestley said the long-term plan was to find a building where the group could offer expanded services, such as a kitchen, like they did in Martin Place.
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