A Sydney council has been accused of attempting to eject homeless people by turning their soup kitchen into a footpath and park.
For the past 200 years, Parramatta Mission’s Fellowship Centre in the western suburbs has fed vulnerable residents, providing 140 meals every day.
But under a Parramatta Council plan, a greenery-lined walkway, called the Civic Link, is earmarked to replace almost half of the centre.
The proposal has angered homeless people who depend on the soup kitchen.
This place has meant more to us than a footpath does to anyone,” Matthew Ingram told 9News.
The council says it wants to work with the mission, and would only take the land, if it chooses to redevelop the site.
While Parramatta Mission says the upgrade is essential, it doesn’t want to be forced out of the CBD, where its services and meals are most needed.
It is also concerned any new park on the site would become a sleeping place for the homeless.
Mission officials said the organisation was expecting financial compensation to enable it to build a new centre on the existing site if the proposal goes ahead.
The threat to the soup kitchen comes as Parramatta Council data shows over the past year there has been a 44 per cent increase in people sleeping rough in the city centre.
Mission volunteer Paul Mousa, told 9News it was needed now more than ever.
The irony of it is the numbers are increasing, the council knows we can do the job, and now they’re taking it away from us.