Homelessness in the region continues to be a grave concern, but a Ballarat real estate agent is hoping to do his bit to tackle the problem.
Biggin & Scott Ballarat director Terrence Morse has worked with Uniting Care's permanent rental assistance program and the From Homelessness to a Home program.
Mr Morse is fully aware a growing number of people have been unable to secure long-term accommodation.
"A lot of the people that we're dealing with, life's just dealt them a really bad hand and they just need a bit of a hand-up," he said.
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Mr Morse feels a new perspective is needed to assist those who are homeless and those on the fringe of it.
"It's about giving everyone an equal opportunity," he said.
"Rather than saying that these guys are from Uniting Care (and having a negative view), have a look at their application.
"Find out this is a mum who's just trying to escape domestic violence; she works and she's getting government help."
Mr Morse's experience with underprivileged tenants has been positive and he speaks highly of them.
"Out of the last 10 properties we've leased, we've given three or four away to people who have come through Uniting Care," he said.
"I can honestly say they're some of the best tenants I could have asked for. Rents are always paid on time; they look after property; there's no issues whatsoever."
A commitment to providing assistance to those less fortunate remains within Mr Morse.
"This is a serious issue we are facing here in Ballarat and something needs to be done," he said.
Biggin & Scott Ballarat has established an initiative to assist the homeless.
Until the end of November, the real estate business will donate 10 per cent of its sale profits to the Ballarat Foundation's fund to eliminate homelessness.
Following on from this, Biggin & Scott Ballarat will continue to make financial contributions to the organisation.
According to Mr Morse, Ballarat property prices continue to increase and many factors are contributing to the inaccessibility of housing.
"Since around 2017, we've seen fairly steady growth, around 10 per cent per year," he said.
"Then, with COVID in 2020, the market sat still a little bit more.
"But this year, based on what I'm seeing, prices have gone up 20 to 25 per cent."
There is also demand from those in Melbourne looking to move to rural areas.
"The lockdowns have led to it being more desirable to move out of the locked-down areas," Mr Morse said.
"Fear of missing out and the whole idea of just escaping lockdowns has been a really big driver.
"Particularly this year, people aren't necessarily coming to Ballarat for the extremely good value because the prices have gone up so much, but they're coming for that lifestyle change and to get away from the locked-down areas.
"I'm probably getting 10 phone calls a day from people in general who are looking to secure a property."
Mr Morse believes the Ballarat housing crisis will be compounded by banks changing lending criteria, resulting in increased pressure on the rental market.
"The people who aren't in the best situation are going to find it even harder," he said.
Despite Biggin & Scott's generous scheme, Ballarat's homelessness issue requires ongoing focus.
"It's a systemic problem," Mr Morse said.
"It's about changing the attitude towards these people. It's about something bigger than just donating money."
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