Valley ‘coping’ with increase

Latrobe Valley support services believe local renters are doing ‘okay’, despite an increase in home rental prices over the past five years.

According to a report released by the Council to Homeless Persons last week, between 2009 and 2014 Latrobe Valley median rental prices rose 20 per cent, from an average of $200 per week to $240 per week.

The council said the price increases were causing a greater rate of homelessness state-wide.

Based in Morwell, Community Housing Limited provides financial assistance to those unable to pay their rent and help with cash advances required before moving into rental properties.

Victorian state manager Brett Wake said while rental prices had risen in other regional areas such as Ballarat and Bendigo, Latrobe Valley had not showed signs of extra strain on his organisation.

He said there had been an increase in clients from 968 this time last year to 1042 this year across Victoria and an increase of $76,000 provided to those in need to $92,000, but did not believe steeper rental prices in the Valley had caused it.

“In terms of the Valley I think it’s pretty stable,” Mr Wake said.

Salvation Army Latrobe Valley Community Support Service coordinator Paul Gray told The Express his organisation had not seen an increase in homelessness due to the rise.

He said it had become harder to find rental properties because of low prices attracting Melbourne renters, but its impacts on his organisation were minor.

“I really think the biggest problem is more around utilities and all of those costs,” Mr Gray said.

“We’ve got so many people coming in and their electricity bills are just getting higher.”