Huge waiting lists for social and community housing are leading to more people sleeping rough in regional South Australia.

Key points:

  • Requests for emergency accommodation have increased by 30 per cent in recent months
  • Mount Gambier City Council will advocate for more funding for social and community housing
  • Homelessness is expected to increase by 4.6 per cent in South East SA this year

Welfare services are experiencing increased demand and no longer have the options to offer people seeking emergency accommodation.

Chief executive of Shane Maddocks said requests for accommodation had risen by 30 per cent in the past few months.

“People coming into us who are either homeless, sleeping rough, either in a car or another situation, we just don’t have the options available for them that we used to have,” Mr Maddocks said.

He said the issue would be compounded if the federal government did not maintain the JobSeeker supplement of $150 that was introduced in response to COVID-19.

“If the government doesn’t maintain that high level of JobSeeker into the long term then we’re going to see a whole range of new people coming into the homelessness sector looking for support from us,” he said.

“People are going to really struggle because we know that affordable housing options on pre-COVID JobSeeker weren’t available in regional areas and that’s still the case.”

Mr Maddocks said his organisation in Millicent and Mount Gambier had already started receiving calls from people who did not usually access their service.

“Today someone gave us a call saying ‘I’ve got a job in Mount Gambier, can you help me find housing because I haven’t been able to find anything’,” he said.

Council calls on governments to invest

Mount Gambier elected member Sonya Mezinec calls for more social housing amid climbing homelessness across the Limestone Coast.(ABC South East SA: Todd Lewis)

The increased demand has triggered the Mount Gambier City Council to write to federal and state leaders requesting additional funding support to expand the amount of social and community housing in the Limestone Coast region.

Councillor Sonya Mezinec tabled the motion at last night’s meeting to liaise with local services in advocating for the increase, which was endorsed by the other elected members.

“There’s been no investment in community and social housing for many years by the state or federal governments and so the stock of social and community housing is quite low,” she said.

“It’s about having that conversation because this is an issue for our whole community.

Bleak outlook for homelessness in the South East

Everybody’s Home is a national campaign aimed at ending homelessness and spokesperson Kate Colvin is concerned with projected data for the South East.

They have been conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic and she predicted homelessness in the South East will increase by 4.6 per cent this year.

She said funding for more social and community housing was crucial to reducing that figure.

“Housing stress, which is already quite high is projected to increase by 16 per cent,” Ms Colvin said.


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