Australia’s rental crisis grows as cost of living keeps rising | Port Macquarie News

news, latest-news,

The face of the homelessness isn’t what you imagine. And it’s not a far off crisis – it’s already here. While most people watch the rising value of real estate with interest, anticipation and pleasure, seeing it as a sign of positive economic growth for the future, the flip side is a homelessness crisis that’s already Australia-wide. Take Lynette Carling for example. She’s not homeless, but she’s doing it tough and worried about the future. Once she’s has paid weekly rent out of her JobSeeker payment, she’s got less than $22 a day to feed and clothe herself, pay to use her grandson’s car and pay her bills. She’s in her 60s, but is too young for a pension. The Burnie resident from north west Tasmania doesn’t qualify for disability payment, but has vertigo and other health problems that make it hard to work. After years as a single mother of four active children, a creative flair, gardening skills and an eye for foraging, Ms Carling is good at “making do”. But there’s only so far it can go. As the cost of living rises, her pool of money stays the same, and it seems the situation is only getting worse. READ MORE: The real cost of the regional rental crisis “It’s the way I’ve always lived, but now it’s a lot more important,” she said, referring to her strict budget and resourcefulness. “I did better a few years ago on the pension with four kids. The government’s going slow, they’re not keeping up with the need. “I’m scared stiff of living on the street.” And she’s not alone. Here we take a look at the impact these changes in the market, and the increases to the cost of living have had on rural and regional Australians: For Edward Whiteside, in the Launceston region of Tasmania, he’d once dreamed he’d build a home for his family at a block of land nestled near the Christmas Hills Forest Reserve at Weetah, a property with sprawling hills, abundant wildlife and sweeping views of the Western Tiers. They cleared part of the block to make room for the house, and a water tank was installed close by to where Edward and his wife envisioned a vegetable patch and gardens, a place for their kids to grow up. Never in his mind would he envision spending four long, cold Tasmanian winters, where temperatures only reach 11 degrees and dip to below freezing, in a caravan and tent. The solid home of his dreams has become a pipe dream, with the cost of living, building and building materials locking Mr Whiteside and his sons out of the property market and leaving them effectively homeless. To make matters worse, Mr Whiteside, 61, has lung cancer, which may have spread to his bowels, and requires intensive treatment in Launceston. While being treated, he has access to the accommodation at the Spurr Wing, which puts a temporary roof over his family’s heads. However, when he is no longer being treated, he and his boys car pool or taxi the 40-minute trek from Launceston to the driveway of their home at Weetah and then walk 1.5-kilometres up a gravel track to their van and tents. Read his story here. A woman and her five children have been left no other option but to share one bed in a motel room for $700 per week, as a housing crisis continues in Western Australia’s South West. Oceania Harris has been unable to find an appropriate rental for herself and her children since she started searching in May last year. Ms Harris said she viewed multiple rentals per week, but her applications were consistently turned down as she competed with 30-60 other applicants for each place. In total, she has had at least 40 renting applications declined. “I’ve tried every house rental in Busselton,” she said. “I’ve even considered two or three bedroom houses. Even though it’s not suitable for me and my kids, but it is desperate at the moment. My five kids and I are sleeping on a double bed. “I’ve exhausted every possible avenue and don’t know what to do or where to go,” she said. Ms Harris is currently on the Department of Housing priority list for public housing, but living in the South West means she still has a wait time of 35 weeks. Read more here. Ken Weir has done lots of things over his life but the army veteran never dreamed he would be homeless, living out of his car and a tent with his pet cat Sammy. But that is exactly where the 61-year-old has found himself. The recent “rain bomb” which hit the NSW Shoalhaven left Ken’s Old Erowal Bay home of 22 years severely damaged and “unliveable”. The rain was “so heavy, fast and constant” that it broke the terracotta tiles and the roof of the rented home started to collapse. Ken was ordered out of the house under a “health order” and was provided three days temporary accommodation at Sanctuary Point, but since then he’s reverted to living in his car, using a tent he got from the Shoalhaven Homeless Hub to camp. He has since managed to secure a camping site at the Shoalhaven Caravan Village at Terara, where he was sleeping in his tent and has now been able to rent a friend’s camper van at the village. Not being able to take all his possessions with him, he piled what he could into his car, including Sammy in his carry crate in the front seat and hit the road. “I had to get out of the house,” he said. “I gave lots of things away, I just couldn’t take them all with me. “Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go. “I’d been living rough in the bush. It’s tough you can’t keep going back to the same places or the rangers will catch you and move you on. “I’ve now managed to get a campsite in the caravan park.” Read his story here. Despite an income of more than $100,000 a year, Suzy Gillis found herself homeless. Ms GillIs is part of the fastest-growing homelessness demographic, although in her case, it was not through domestic violence or the breakdown of a relationship. Suzy Gillis moved to Armidale in NSW’s north east from the central west of the state after being homeless for six months. “I am the face of a homeless person, and when people think of homeless people, they don’t think of professional middle-aged women,” she says. In late 2020, a gold mine near the small town Ms Gillis was living in purchased leases in the area paying above-market rates and she was given a ‘no cause’ notice and 90 days to vacate the house she lived in. There were no other places available locally, and because she was an hour from any other town that had something for rent, she’d have to take at least three hours off work the day she wanted to go and apply for the property. Ms Gillis did that 20 times without success. Read her story here. Most Moruya residents on NSW’s South Coast were sheltering from flood warnings and surging storms in their homes the day support workers Lachlan Fuzzard and Joel Ryan visited the homeless. The rain was pouring and a swollen Moruya river was lapping at the shoulder of North Head drive as the pair made their weekly drive to North Head Campground, Moruya. They carried precious cargo that could not wait until the flooding subsided. Mr Fuzzard and Mr Ryan work for The Family Place Moruya – one of four specialist homelessness support services in the Eurobodalla. They are on the frontlines of fighting homelessness. Their day’s work included delivering four Food Bank boxes of groceries to those in need at the campground. It took months of rapport-building to get to this stage; the trip is far more about relationships than delivering food. Makeshift shelters were strewn all across the campsite, centered around the one primitive shower block which spits out cold water. At the first delivery stop, Mr Fuzzard organised to drive one resident into Moruya the following day to have a warm shower and charge their electronics. The Family Place is trying to establish a shower voucher system to enable the homeless free access to a shower in town. The difficulty is finding shower facilities willing to participate in the program. More here. Daniel Laughton has spent more than his fair share of time on the streets. He was once homeless and could not see a way out of his situation. It was a dark time, he said, during which he felt the pain life had inflicted on him had become too much. However, those closest to Daniel helped him and now he in turn is helping others. Daniel is now the NSW South Coast Bomaderry-based Salt Ministries’ Temporary Accommodation manager and he helps people to access their yearly 28 days of temporary accommodation. While they are in temporary accommodation, Daniel supports them, and together they work on ways to achieve more permanent housing. More here.