MALLEE Accommodation and Support Program (MASP) says new census data has revealed homeless and housing insecurity will be a growing challenge for Mallee communities, and is hoping Homelessness Week will help focus attention on long-term solutions.
ABS data from 2016 shows homelessness rates in some areas of the Mallee are comparable to the State average – but MASP Chief Executive Officer Vincent Wilson said he’s most troubled by 2021 census data revealing the growing pressure within Mallee communities.
“Household stress is a very clear measure of what is going on in our families and communities,” Mr Wilson said.
“Paying 30 percent of your household income as rent or mortgage payments is statistically considered the tipping point for housing stress – and between the 2016 census and 2021 census there was a really worrying growth in the number of households in that group,” he said.
“For example, the census data shows in Mildura in 2016, just 4.87 percent of households were paying more than 30 percent of their income to mortgage repayments, and that figure has nearly doubled to 9.2 percent. For rentals, the rise is even sharper, from 10.6 percent in 2016, to 30.1 percent in 2021.”
Homelessness Week runs from August 1st to 7th and Mr Wilson said it was an opportunity to think about community-based solutions to local housing insecurity issues.
“People may think of it as a ‘city’ issue, but that is simply not the case. Housing insecurity is a much deeper issue than people sleeping rough,” Mr Wilson said.
“We have many individuals, families and youth right here in the Mallee who struggle with housing insecurity every day, whether it’s rough sleeping, couch surfing, living in caravan parks or complete homelessness without a roof over their heads,” Mr Wilson said.
“Unfortunately, the Mallee, like many other communities in Victoria and Australia is grappling with a chronic housing shortage, particularly in properties that are suited to families.
“As a result, many of the most vulnerable members of our community are at increased risk because insecure housing impacts on so many other measures of wellbeing.”
Mr Wilson said MASP was working towards some important infrastructure and building projects, working with decisionmakers, and partnering with other agencies to find the best solutions for the region.
“We’ve never seen the housing market this pressured in the Mallee, and the challenges we are facing at the moment are impacting on every organisation in the region, through the number of clients presenting and the sorts of issues that are coming through the door,” he said.
“What we need to be doing is working together as a community to find and take advantage of opportunities to create real change in the Mallee.”
MASP will undertake a Food Can Drive on Friday August 5 at the Centro Carpark (outside Adairs) to allow community members to provide meaningful contributions to supporting community members experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.
“Certainly, this is a big issue for our community, but everyone has the ability to do something practical to help, no matter how small. We would certainly appreciate each and every contribution to our Food Can drive, because it helps us help community right through the year,” Mr Wilson said.