AN idea being touted as a possible solution to the homelessness crisis in Bathurst has drawn criticism by a well-known Bathurst business identity.
Nick Packham, who heads Vivability and has previously run as a candidate for Bathurst Regional Council, said he personally is against the idea of the sleepbus.
The sleepbus, which is already operating in parts of Australia, provides emergency overnight accommodation for people who don't have a safe place to sleep.
The buses currently in operation are fitted out with individual sleep pods with single bunks.
Bathurst council is investigating the idea with key stakeholders to see if it would not only be feasible, but something that people would actually want to use.
Mr Packham believes there are better solutions to the homelessness problem than a sleepbus, though.
"I'm not in favour of that. I think we can do better than that," he said.
"In Bathurst, we know that we've got lots of buildings that are vacant and I think we should probably take advantage and reuse some of those in more creative ways."
He said he is not in favour of "lumping everyone into a bus for the night", particularly when people could be presenting with a range of different personal circumstances.
"It's something I wouldn't want to do, so I really don't think that there would be a real lot of appetite for that," he said.
"I understand that people, at times, are desperate, but I think we can do a little bit better than that."
Initial discussions about a Bathurst sleepbus suggested that people who utilise it would have the opportunity to be linked with services that could help get their lives back on track.
Potentially, this could include helping them to find long-term accommodation
However, service providers across Bathurst are already finding it difficult to do this due to a lack of available housing.
"We know that there's a housing crisis across the country and that's for a number of reasons, but there literally is not enough facility," Mr Packham said.
"Even the growth rate of new housing in NSW, we're not going to meet this year's target, nor is any other state, and governments, particularly state governments, need to look at provision of social housing, and not to lump everyone in together."
Although Mr Packham has questioned the suitability of a sleepbus, the concept has generally received a lot of support from stakeholders.
Mayor Jess Jennings believes it could be a game-changer for the homelessness issue in Bathurst.
"It could actually change someone's life quite significantly if they haven't had that connection before and they wind up in this bus," he said in November, 2023.