Everybody needs a home and there are ways communities can help — that’s the message this Homelessness Week, which runs from 1 to 7 August 2021.
In Australia, there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
Locally, Assistant Manager of Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services Ann Fletcher says they helped 848 people experiencing homelessness in the past financial year including 317 children under the age of 16.
“Homelessness can often be hidden — because this is holiday area we expect people to be free camping or sleeping in their cars. People might think they’re just here on a holiday but really they could potentially be a homeless person.
“Couch-surfing is particularly common for young people, who crash at a friend’s place but don’t have a place to live themselves. Then of course, there’s the domestic violence rate in our area, which is the main reason for homelessness for women and their children,” she said.
Hume Community Housing provides homes and services to people in Port Stephens. The number of people accessing temporary accommodation in Port Stephens through Hume last financial year was 320, with a further 1,264 enquiries.
Sally Regan, Hume’s Senior Manager Social Outcomes, says temporary accommodation is in short supply in Port Stephens.
“The only temporary accommodation vendor we have been able to engage in Port Stephens is based in Raymond Terrace, which many people calling from the Bay area do not or cannot travel to — hence the difference between the 2 figures,” she said.
Mayor Ryan Palmer says Port Stephens Council is encouraging the community to get behind housing as a solution to ending homelessness.
“It’s really important that we all understand the impact that homelessness has on our community. There are also ways some people may be able to help practically.
“If you own a property in Port Stephens, you could help low income and disadvantaged households access housing through headleasing.
“Headleasing is when an owner leases a property to a community housing provider, which then sub-leases the property to clients approved for social housing.
“There are so many benefits — the provider pays full market rent and bond, they cover maintenance and repairs, you don’t need to pay for a property manager and you have guaranteed income for the length of the lease.
“By headleasing your property, you have secure rental income while helping change a family’s life. Your investment property can be a stepping-stone to long term housing stability, career prospects and a brighter future for someone in our community.
“It’s really a win for the property owner and a win for our community,” he said.
Ms Regan says Hume is always looking for more housing options in Port Stephens.
“We have a 30 year track record of managing properties including headleasing for private landlords and are a trusted and safe pair of hands.
“We treat your property as if it was our own including managing all aspects of tenancy management together with property maintenance and repairs.
“Importantly, we ensure our customers are successful in their tenancies as our goal is to provide opportunities for people to prosper. If a tenant needs additional support, we link them with appropriate services. We make sure it’s a win-win for landlords and tenants,” she said.