After more than six months camped outside the Reserve Bank building in Sydney’s CBD, occupants of the Martin Place tent city have begun packing up their belongings.
NSW police stood by as the homeless community started peacefully packing up their belongings and tents about 9am on Friday.
About 40 tents had been set up at the site and by 10am less than 20 remained as many camp dwellers found other accommodation.
Legislation passed NSW Parliament on Thursday to empower police to tear down the tents from Crown Land.
The man dubbed the “Mayor of Martin Place”, Lanz Priestley, said some people were moving to “friend’s places” or “friend’s backyards”.
“There are some of the people who are from here who don’t have anywhere to go,” he told AAP. He was reportedly set to address the media later on Friday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday that homeless people would be treated “compassionately” when police arrived to move them on.
“Everybody knows my attitude, that everybody on the site needs to be treated compassionately, respectfully and in a way in which will help them,” she told reporters.
Wayside Chapel chief executive Rev Graham Long says the service has no space for sleeping, but could offer a warm shower, low-cost meals and support services.
“The Department of Family and Community Services has asked Wayside if we would extend our hours to 11pm closing each night,” he said in a statement, clarifying that the department had requested the charity consider operating 24/7 but nothing had been confirmed.
Rev Long pointed out nothing Wayside could do would disguise the lack of affordable housing in the city, a problem he described as “complex”.
NSW Police are maintaining a presence at the site.