Mayor of Martin Place Lanz Priestly outraged after government directs homeless to him for help

Australia’s most vulnerable and desperate are being directed to a homeless man for help despite more than $36 million in taxpayer money allocated to getting people off the streets.

Lanz Priestly, 76, has been named as a vital contact on two government websites set up to help those without food or shelter.

Mr Priestly, who was declared the ‘Mayor of Martin Place’ after becoming the face of a ‘tent city’ in Sydney’s CBD in 2018, only found out about the listing after being inundated with desperate phone calls for help. 

‘I found out about it from the people that started ringing me saying I was referred to you by this website.’ Mr Priestly said.

Mr Priestly’s grassroots organisation’s Blanket Patrol and Street Kitchen, which rely on volunteers, have been listed on the Australian Government’s ‘Recovery Service Connect’ along with the ‘Ask Izzy’ website directing people to services. 

Homeless man Lanz Priestly (pictured) has been listed as a direct contact for the homeless on two government websites, despite receiving no taxpayer funding

Mr Priestly (pictured right) relies on grassroots help and volunteers to help those who are hungry and live on the streets

Mr Priestly (pictured right) relies on grassroots help and volunteers to help those who are hungry and live on the streets

‘I haven’t given the details to anybody so I haven’t given permission for anyone to list us on any of their websites,’  he told Daily Mail Australia.

Mr Priestly said he was shocked to discover he had become the government’s ‘go-to’ person for homeless people despite not receiving any funding from the millions allocated to the sector.

‘I’m glad that people that need help can get help, on the one hand,’ he said.

‘On the other hand, I’m wondering why the hell they cant get help off the government that collects taxes on the basis that when you’re up, you pay taxes so that when you’re down, the government will support you. 

‘The numerous NGO’s that purport to provide services and collect not only tax-deductible donations, but also receive government funding to provide the services that people are asking us for; these organisations that still purport to be providing the services  – where the hell are they?’

The 'Blanket Patrol' and 'Street Kitchen' rely solely on community contributions and volunteers (pictured) to help the homeless Australia-wide

The ‘Blanket Patrol’ and ‘Street Kitchen’ rely solely on community contributions and volunteers (pictured) to help the homeless Australia-wide

The NSW State Government announced in June, 2020 that $36 million would be spent getting rough sleepers into permanent homes in what was described as the biggest investment to tackle street homelessness in the state’s history. 

Mr Priestly said he wondered where the money had gone with both front-line government websites in question filled with outdated resources and referral services that lead to a dead end. 

With no real support provided, he described many recommended referral services included as a ‘piss-take’.

‘One of the hidden dangers is you’ve got this merry-go-round where you go from one service to the next to the next and pretty soon it  starts effecting peoples mental health,’ he said.

The listing of the Blanket Patrol (pictured) on the Services Australia 'Recovery Connect' website directing those in need to the unsupported organisation

The listing of the Blanket Patrol (pictured) on the Services Australia ‘Recovery Connect’ website directing those in need to the unsupported organisation

A listing on the Government's 'Ask Izzy' website (pictured) has seen homeless man Lanz Priestly inundated with calls for help for desperate members of the community

A listing on the Government’s ‘Ask Izzy’ website (pictured) has seen homeless man Lanz Priestly inundated with calls for help for desperate members of the community

Mr Priestly said if organisations assisting the homeless aren’t prepared to be ‘first responders’ then they should ‘get the hell out of the ring’. 

‘With homelessness, I’ve looked aghast for the last couple of decades and said well, for as long as they deal with homelessness after people become homeless they will never solve homelessness,’ he said. 

‘And then I realised there’s an industry out there and a whole lot of bureaucrats that depend on homelessness existing and continuing to exist in the case of the NGO’s for their growth, and in the case of the bureaucrats, for their jobs’. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Federal Government for comment.

The Blanket Patrol is not government funded and works to deliver blankets to those in need living on the streets

The Blanket Patrol is not government funded and works to deliver blankets to those in need living on the streets 

Mr Priestly was a successful corporate project manager working for a major Sydney  cosmetics brand but now spends much of his time living on the street.

The father-of-12 began helping the homeless in 1964 with his brother in the park near their workplace, offering them food, blankets and helping them to find housing.

Mr Priestly began living on the streets in 1991 to understand the situation homeless people find themselves in.

‘I want to know what’s working from the point of view of the guys on the streets – because they’ve had absolutely no say in the programs that are run to help them,’ he said. 

In 2017 he and about 38 people had been sleeping safely on mattresses under the awning of the old Westpac building in Martin Place, in Sydney in a makeshift tent city before they were moved on.

Mr Priestly also has had his fair share of run ins with law while living on the street which have lead to a string of conviction for petty crimes and assaults.

To volunteer or contribute to Blanket Patrol or Street Kitchen, you can go to their dedicated Facebook page. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk