Rental rise linked to homelessness

Increases in private rental costs in Latrobe Valley have skyrocketed 20 per cent every year since 2015 creating a housing problem in the area, Gippsland Homelessness Network coordinator Lisa Morgan says.

Ms Morgan said a number of people expect the Valley, being a regional area, to have more affordable housing compared to metropolitan Melbourne.

“People relocate in this area thinking there’s cheaper rent,” Ms Morgan said.

She said continued increases in rental costs in Melbourne, which have increased 13 per cent annually for the last two years, drive people to the Valley hoping to find more affordable housing.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in 2011 revealed about 23,000 Victorians are homeless including 1,000 people who are rough sleeping.

Ms Morgan said while city dwellers consider the Valley as having more affordable housing options, there’s few choices in the area especially for single people.

According to her, homelessness in metropolitan areas and homelessness in Latrobe Valley comes in many forms, including couch surfing.

Twenty-five per cent of homeless young people in the area were aged between 15 and 24 and often moved from one friend’s place to another, Ms Morgan said.

“What we find in youth we don’t know about them until they don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.

“The reason they remain homeless is they can’t afford a rental home.”

Ms Morgan said there were a few available studio or one bedroom options around the area to cater to young people or single tenants with no partner or children.

“At the moment the only option we have is registered rooming houses where you don’t have control over your space, you don’t feel you have privacy,” she said.

As they couch surf from one place to another, homeless youth often feel a disconnection from community and “feel very lonely and isolated”, according to Ms Morgan.

“They may not have their belongings with them, they may not recall if they go from house to house or couch surfing (or) that they may have just been in five different addresses,” she said.

In 2015-16, Gippsland homelessness services saw more than 5000 people who were in need of assistance with 1400 of that number aged between 15 and 24.

The ABS figures estimate about 35,000 Victorians are waiting for social and community housing.

Gippsland’s Homelessness Network, a group of 11 service providers, will host a number of activities to mark Homelessness Week from 7-13 August.

Community barbecues will be held at the Legacy Park and at the Quantum Youth Residential Building in Morwell on 3 and 4 August which will allow people to connect with local members of parliament and learn about what drives and contributes to homelessness in the region.