Wendouree has the greatest number of people living in rooming houses in all of regional Victoria, new research reveals.
It is also the third worst electorate for homelessness in regional Victoria behind Shepparton and Geelong, according to the Council to Homeless Persons Homelessness Heat Map released on Monday.
The report found Wendouree has higher numbers of homelessness than the median metropolitan number.
Uniting Ballarat executive officer Sean Duffy said it was important to understand homelessness was not an issue specific to Wendouree, but all of Ballarat and the Central Highlands region.
“It is most likely Wendouree ranks so badly because… it could be that the concentration of rooming houses are in the Wendouree area,” he said.
A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
We have a significant shortage in one and two bedroom units.Sean Duffy, Uniting Ballarat
The Council to Homeless Persons attributes the high number of people living in rooming houses in Wendouree to the shortage of affordable accommodation for single people.
Mr Duffy agreed there was a shortage of low cost housing in Ballarat.
“We need significant investment from government or we need the policies that provide the incentive for development... We have a significant shortage in one and two bedroom units,” he said.
“We understand there are a number of people who are homeless in Ballarat who aren’t from Ballarat. Ballarat is an attractive city in terms of the services it offers (and lower cost housing than Melbourne) and that can compound the problem.”
The Council to Homeless Persons will be calling on the major parties to adopt its recommendations in the lead up to the November state election.
The council is lobbying for 3000 new social housing properties per year for 10 years, with 1500 of those one and two bedroom homes.
Central Highlands Regional Partnership social and community leader Geoff Sharp said further research into homelessness in the Central Highlands will be released in October.
It is the first step in the partnership’s plan to develop solutions to homelessness specific to the region.
“It is not a silver bullet solution. This is a complex issue that requires attention and commitment to change. But we have to change it as a community,” he said.
“I’m not comfortable with this report (Homelessness Heat Map). It’s up to us to fix it.”
The Central Highlands Regional Partnership received $300,000 funding in the state budget to conduct a housing first pilot program. Discussions with stakeholders will begin once the research is released.