Ballarat social service organisations have issued a united call for policymakers to address the ‘desperate’ need for social and affordable housing in Ballarat.
The advocacy from WRISC Family Violence Support, Women’s Health Grampians, Central Highlands Community Legal Centre, Ballarat Foundation and Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council comes after Uniting Ballarat revealed 124 households were on the priority waiting list for public housing in Ballarat.
Council to Homeless Persons data revealed the electorate of Wendouree has the third highest rates of homelessness in regional Victoria.
Some of the most shocking stories are what people are willing to cut out of their lives to afford housing.Toni Gillett, CAFS Ballarat
The Homelessness Heat Map shows 293 people are counted as homeless in the electorate of Wendouree, exceeding the median number in metro areas.
The Council to Homeless Persons is calling on political parties in the lead up to the state election to commit to 30,000 new public and community housing properties across Victoria over 10 years.
Child and Family Services Ballarat program manager housing Toni Gillett said more Ballarat families would be forced into disadvantage and poverty if more affordable housing was not made available ‘very soon’.
“Some of the most shocking stories are what people are willing to cut out of their lives to afford housing. People are cutting out vegetables and meat, and utility bills are always on the verge of being cut off if they haven’t been already,” she said.
Private rental availability in Ballarat remains low with around one per cent vacancy rate. The median weekly rental cost for a house is $300 and $250 for a unit.
The Council to Homeless Persons is calling for the state government to provide ongoing funding to the Private Rental Assistance Program to prevent renters being evicted into homelessness.
WRISC Family Violence Support chief executive Eliabeth Jewson said safe, secure and affordable housing was a necessity for people fleeing violence.
Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women aged 25 to 44, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
WRISC communications officer Alison, who asked her last name to not be revealed, said a lack of affordable housing meant women fleeing violence were living in inadequate housing in terms of safety, heating and amenities.
“Even though presently we are better funded than we ever have been to support women to move into housing, because the housing market is so tight we are paying premium rates and that is eating up the funding,” she said.
“Sometimes we have women and children that are put in emergency accommodation that is not appropriate until secure housing can be found. That might be a motel if other emergency accommodation is occupied.”
The Council to Homeless Persons also recommends the state government commit to helping people exiting prison and psychiatric units get housing by providing a pool of dedicated housing. It also calls for dedicated housing stock and intensive support for rough sleepers.
The state government announced on October 17 Ballarat would receive a share of 1000 new public houses if a Labor government was re-elected.
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