REGIONAL homelessness issues were highlighted on Mount Gambier’s main street today as the community walked in support of people affected by the region’s housing crisis during the annual Pride In Your Stride march.
Organised by Uniting Communities and ac.care, the National Homelessness Week walk concluded at ac.care’s Mount Gambier Community Centre, where participants learnt more about challenges faced by people in the region and the services available to help.
“A person who is experiencing homelessness faces a daily dilemma as when they wake up they must move from where they are and walk to find food, services and support,” said Ruby’s Reunification Therapeutic Youth Service senior coordinator Sharon Gray of Uniting Communities.
“The walk across Mount Gambier to ac.care symbolised this daily journey with the community coming together to support those facing homelessness and show that nobody should ever have to walk alone.”
ac.care homelessness and community services manager Trish Spark said ac.care continued to see an increasing number of people seeking support since JobSeeker coronavirus supplements were wound back early this year.
“Sadly, vulnerable people have seen a perfect storm of government payments being reduced at the same time as house prices are going up across the regions, which translates to higher rent, a lack of affordable options and hardship for people as they are priced out of their homes,” Ms Spark said.
“We are doing all we can to support those facing or at risk of homelessness, but people are being left with nowhere to go as the affordable accommodation and social housing is just not available to help keep people housed.”
Ms Spark said the coronavirus supplements showed lifting people out of poverty was possible through greater government support.
She said increased investment in social housing was vital, along with a sustainable increase to JobSeeker, which would have long-term benefits by allowing people to secure independence and a more hopeful future.
“Investing in social housing has not kept up with demand for many years and sadly the current situation is increasingly pricing people out of tenancies and the market, with emergency short-term options filled to capacity and nowhere available for people to move on to, except for a long waiting list,” she said.
Ms Spark said people from all backgrounds were seeking ac.care’s support, including single parents and couples with children, women who had left domestic violence situations and single job seekers.