Homeless Man
Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA Wikimedia Commons/Matthew Woitunski

Authorities and service providers have clarified that homelessness is not illegal amid the crisis that Melbourne is facing. Police said they cannot move people if they are not breaking the law.

The population of homeless people in the city has visibly increased in the past couple of months. Council officers have recently counted 19 rough sleepers outside Flinders Street Station, which has caused complaints from the traders and public.

The City of Melbourne Police and support services are under pressure to find solutions to homelessness. However, Superintendent David Clayton from Victoria Police said officers cannot force people to move despite the concerns from the community.

Clayton said he understands the public’s frustrations. “But currently it's no offence to be homeless and sit or sleep on the street," he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Robert Doyle said outreach workers try to help the homeless, instead of waiting for them to turn up at an agency. He believes that the only way to solve the issue is to address rough sleeping.

The ABC reports that the authorities have removed some camp around the city last week. These include some of those set up at Flinders St. Clayton said police can remove makeshift structures on a weekly basis for it is under the law.

As part of their efforts to solve the homelessness crisis, Clayton said those living on the street were offered housing support. But some of them are not interested. "We work with the service agencies to link them to housing, [but] if people don't take the housing option it's difficult to move them on,” Clayton said.

Sharon, one of the people living in Flinders St., told ABC Radio Melbourne she was there because she feels safe. "The reason I sleep here is because I know there are cameras up the road, I know I'm safe every night," she said.