Vulnerable rough sleepers in Katherine have been left on the streets amid the most serious COVID outbreak in the NT so far.
Katherine Salvo's Doorways Hub Senior Case Manager Dean Jones said no accommodation had been made available to the significant number of homeless people in Katherine, many of whom are extra vulnerable to the virus.
He said during previous outbreaks in Katherine, hotels had been provided for homeless people in town or efforts had been made to return people to community. However, it didn't seem like this had occurred yet for this outbreak.
"People are basically just out on the street like they normally are, just kind of wandering around," he said.
"A lot of vulnerable people with health issues are out on the streets.
Lockdown 3.0 links
"We're basically just going out and delivering [food packages] to where we know people are camped."
Homelessness and shortages in housing has been a longstanding issue in Katherine, which Mr Jones said makes containing a COVID-19 outbreak incredibly difficult.
"There's no emergency or short term housing or accommodation [in Katherine]. It's one of those things that should have been addressed long ago," he said.
"There's no public housing, people can be on the waitlist for six to eight years.
"In places like Warlpiri Camp, there are sometimes up to 20-25 people living in one house."
The heatwave predicted for Katherine for the coming days, which is set to see temperatures climb above 40C, is only set to make matters worse for rough sleepers and low income families who don't have access to air conditioning.
Mr Jones said the places people would usually go to find respite from the heat have had to close.
"It tends to be a lot of people, will sit in with us [in the Doorways Hub] because we've got air con, or they'll go to the library or a shopping centre. Those things are out as well," he said.
"[And] if it rains people out on the street are going to get drenched."
When asked about the issue at a press conference on Wednesday morning, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the government was "happy to work with anyone who wants to relocate."
"We had a meeting yesterday for three ACCHOs to coordinate welfare support, education on symptoms and mobile vaccinations, mobile testing a range of things," he said.
"We are happy to work with rough sleepers. I want to be clear, unfortunately, it is a choice. People don't always want to leave those circumstances."
Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said he believed commercial acommodation was available in Katherine to those who needed it.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Katherine Times, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling your stories. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great area.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?: Send letters to the editor or story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.