News / Community / Business / 29th July 2021
Homelessness impacted by rental shortage
The rental shortage in Coonabarabran has seen more people access the services of Mission Australia and similar organisations in town.
August 1 to 7 is Homelessness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness in Australia.
According to Mission Australia, more than 116,000 people don’t have a home to go to each night in Australia.
Coonabarabran isn’t sheltered from the problem either, with Mission Australia’s Dylan Crawley citing the rental shortage as one of the areas of concern.
“There’s just not many options for people at the moment,” he said.
“It seems to be happening everywhere in the larger communities like Dubbo, and filtering out to the smaller towns.
“While there never has been a lot of rentals in town, it has become quite bad now.
“We have certainly seen an increase in people seeking assistance from us.”
Mr Crawley said homelessness was not just sleeping on the streets, and for the most part it was hidden from public view.
“The common perception of a homeless person is an older man with a drinking or drug problem who sleeps in parks or streets. However, we know from our experience and census figures there is no typical homeless person,” Mr Crawley said.
“Yet the problem is often masked by the fact people experiencing homelessness move from one temporary solution to another, making do until they can find permanent accommodation.
“These people - the hidden homeless - move between the homes of family members or, as is often the case, with young people who couch surf.
“Some stay in refuges, boarding houses, cheapmotels,caravans and cars.”
Mr Crawley said while the rental shortage was a big part of the problem, he stated there were other issues contributing to the crisis.
The turn around on vacant social and public housing was one aspect and he said he has noticed an alarming trend with big companies when they come to town.
“When a social housing home becomes vacant it can take six to eight months before it’s ready to be rented again,” he said.
“There’s also been a trend for larger companies, when they come to town for a period of time, to rent out homes rather than put their workers up in motels, which puts an added strain on an already struggling rental situation.
“And, of course, there’s COVID, which is having a big affect on families.”
Ultimately, Mr Crawley said he would like to see an increase in social and public housing made available to low income earners. He said that decision comes back to the State Government.
“For the most part, our work is done with people with poor rental history or people with other underlying issues,” Mr Crawley said.
“But at this stage, even people with good records and housing history are having issues.”
A spokesperson from St Vincent de Paul in Coonabarabran said they had noticed a slight increase in people using their service.
“This time of the year is always difficult,” the spokesperson explained.
“Winter is always hard and when school goes back some families struggle because financially they’re not prepared.”
The Food Pantry initiative, which is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, offers a variety of goods at better than reasonable prices.
Mark Bennett, who runs the program, said on average 50 people use the service each week and that number can often increase to 65.
“We haven’t noticed a massive increase in people using the service, but it’s pretty constant lately,” Mr Bennett said.
“There is really cheap food, probably a quarter of the price you would pay at supermarkets - and free bread and fruit and vegetables.”
The Food Pantry is open each Thursday from 8am to 12 noon.