Greater Shepparton has several agencies that assist with housing for the homeless. The Bridge Youth Service, Beyond Housing, Kildonan, Pathways at the Salvation Army and other welfare agencies all provide assistance. Statistics tell that – for regional Victoria – Shepparton has an unusually high number of homeless. Social planning is proceeding for social housing on several fronts. Here, we look to the statistics and data about those presenting for rental and housing solutions.
Rental and Housing Stress
The median line for a need to access affordable housing is set at 30% of income going to rental; more than 30% is rental and housing stress.
Reported as at June 2019, Greater Shepparton has 2238 persons experiencing rental and housing stress. This comprises single persons, families, victims of family violence and indigenous persons and their families.
⊛ Women over 55
⊛ 40% of people presenting are single;
⊛ 70% are single parents with a further 460 single persons. Of these, 16% have no income.
⊛ 66% are families; (800 people are homeless with their families)
⊛ 463 are from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Community (ATSIC).
⊛ 22% cite Family Violence
⊛ 34% suffer mental health afflictions
⊛ 9-10% are rough sleeping, sleeping in garages, long grass, tents by the river, etc., etc.
Beyond Housing has 59 transitional properties for 2238 persons seeking housing assistance. Rural Housing is a similar situation. Of these 2238 persons, 1988 are Australian born. Some are people on drugs or recovering, some are victims of family violence, others are victims of housing stress/rental stress.
It was reported that Rural Housing has a number of dwellings in need of significant renovation and repair. Rural Housing also report a significant wait-list.
The main source of income when presenting was a parenting payment (24 per cent), followed by Newstart (19 per cent) and Disability Pension (17 per cent). 16 per cent of people presenting had no income.
July 2018 – April 2019 presentations to Beyond Housing
The main homeless service provider in the Greater Shepparton region is Beyond Housing. From July 2018 to April 2019 there were 980 individual presentations to Beyond Housing who were reported as homeless or at risk of homelessness, with 99 per cent of presentations on a statutory income.
Of these households, more than 270 were families with children, 70 per cent of these being single parents, and a further 460 single persons. The main reasons for seeking assistance was financial difficulties (29.6 per cent), followed by inadequate or inappropriate dwelling (17.5 per cent)
Data provided by Beyond Housing for July 2018 – April 2019 period.
(People may nominate more than one reason for presenting )
At the time of presenting to Beyond Housing, 516 persons were in some form of housing and a further 329 were not in a defined dwelling. People who were homeless or at risk of homelessness were living predominantly on the street or in parks (155 persons), followed by couch surfing (123 persons) (Figure 21). A high proportion indicated they were living in ‘other dwelling’ or a dwelling type was not recorded.
It has been suggested that a shift is needed in the focus on housing affordability and homelessness to the whole community being connected. Perhaps John Donne has the matter encapsulated well, here:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Homelessness affects each and every one of us. While the majority have a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and some security of home and hearth, those who are homeless do not have this security; lack of security breeds mental illness, depression and lack of hope for a better future. Wherever we lay our heads, we go to sleep in the knowledge that a new day is coming. Much has been done locally to alleviate homelessness and housing stress. St Mary’s Parish Mooroopna in collaboration with The Haven look to providing social housing in Mooroopna West. City of Greater Shepparton seeks to engage with developers and get afforable housing into new housing developments. Approvals are awaited for the social housing project in Tatura, a project many look forward to completion.
For all of us who lay our heads down at night, we might have a thought for those who sleep in temporary circumstances, in cars, in garages, in overcrowded homes, in tents by the river. People are sleeping in many places. We urge you to take up the local solutions, the screening of Life after the Oasis by the The Bridge Youth Service, and the Morning Tea at Friar’s Cafe conducted by the Hume Region Homelessness Network in support of homelessness.
We might also spare a thought for the staff and supporters of Beyond Housing, and those who work at Rural Housing, confronted daily with people presenting seeking accommodation. These, and those seeking accommodation, are worthy of our support and compassion. Perhaps we could take Donne’s poem a step further, and look to the Golden Rule. Whatever thoughts you have of others affects others, so have positive thoughts, as the Golden Rule encourages us:
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