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Wangaratta Housing Crisis

Wangaratta Housing Crisis

Many locals at risk of homelessness

Wangaratta residents are at risk of becoming homeless due to a shortage in housing, according to a local housing service provider.

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Beyond Housing Wangaratta saw a 25.2 per cent increase in households seeking assistance to keep their rental properties in the 2019-2020 period. Up to 65 per cent of those people had never sought help from the service before.

"We're anticipating significant increases in the number of people who either become at risk of homelessness or are homeless, as a result of being unable to find and keep, long-term, secure and affordable housing," explains Beyond CEO, Celia Adams.

She says it's the combined impact of house prices going up, which means people who might normally buy a house have to stay renting. Combined with a flood of people moving to the regions, there is now a shortage of available rental properties.

"When supply is low and demand is high, prices go up. And when rental prices go up, its squeezes the most vulnerable in our community out of the rental market. People who could previously afford rental housing can't anymore," says Ms Adams.

"In the September quarter of 2020, there was only one affordable one bedroom property available in Wangaratta for a single person receiving income support. One."

Beyond Housing believes there must be a short-term and long-term approach. In the short-term, Ms Adams says government support like rental assistance and JobSeeker must be immediately raised to take the pressure off.

And to address the housing shortage, the answer is deceptively simple: there needs to be more affordable houses built.

"We're asking the federal government - who have been largely silent - to invest in social housing the way that the states have and do," she says.

"Investing in housing creates jobs, stimulates the economy and is good for our community."

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