Welfare groups want to put a caravan and mini-cabin in a church carpark in the Orange CBD to give the city's growing homeless population a safe place to sleep in the depths of this winter.
And they have asked Orange City Council to allow a 'special exemption' to use a church hall to provide overnight refuge on the coldest nights.
Spokeswoman Bev Rankin from Fusion Orange told council this week the number of homeless people in Orange was increasing due to the city's shortage of rental accommodation.
There are now people in gainful employment who are just struggling and people who are being evicted from rentalsBev Rankin, Fusion Orange
"No longer is it just itinerant people living off social security who are needing emergency accommodation," she said.
"There are now people in gainful employment who are just struggling and people who are being evicted from rentals.
"Rental [prices] are going up, they can no longer afford them.
"Housing Plus used to say it was during mining lockdowns only they would run out of accommodation, now it's every weekend.
"And this last weekend in particular. It was fantastic for the tourism business but not so fantastic if you had no home."
Mrs Rankin said tourists and visitors were booking hotel and motel rooms normally available for emergency accommodation.
She asked Orange City Council to consider contingency arrangements to allow the use of Orange Uniting Church Hall and carpark in Anson Street for overnight accommodation.
Mrs Rankin told councillors previous requests to council had been rejected due to zoning regulations but she hoped that could be temporarily changed.
She said the Uniting Church was working with other welfare groups including Housing Plus, other churches, the Salvation Army, Veritas House and St Vincent de Paul to find answers to the crisis.
"We are asking for a special exemption to allow us to put some units or vans in the Uniting Church secure car park for the duration of winter," Mrs Rankin said.
"And also to go back to the question of using the hall when the weather is particularly inclement."
Mrs Rankin said there were issues, "however that is better than have someone die or get seriously ill."
She said the homeless situation was worse than ever.
However she said it was difficult to determine how many homeless people were in the city as many were couch-surfing.
She said she had recently handed out emergency backpack beds in Orange to a man with pneumonia who was squatting in a 'broken-down' unit and to a man planning to sleep in a CBD alleyway.
Council agreed to investigate allowing contingency arrangements through the use of the church hall and carpark during winter.
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