Community housing probe

Mount Gambier City Council is liaising with local homelessness sector services to advocate for increasing the availability of social and community housing in the city and the surrounding area. The move follows Councillor Sonya Mezinec’s motion regarding homelessness in Mount Gambier presented at the February 2021 council meeting.

Cr Mezinec said while council was not a housing provider or a funder, it did have a role to advocate on behalf of the community, for those vulnerable people in the community to “see if governments can increase the stock of social and community housing which has declined over a period of many years”. “We are now in the situation where we have increasing pressures in terms of housing affordability and the fact that more and more people are facing homelessness in our city,” she said.

Cr Mezinec’s stand was supported by Mayor Lynette Martin. “I thank Cr Mezinec for bringing this issue to council and for highlighting the difficult situation many people in our community are currently facing,” Mayor Martin said.

“Elected Members unanimously supported this motion as we see the need for social and community housing has been exacerbated by COVID-19. “Mount Gambier is seen as an attractive and safe place for people to relocate and purchase property, resulting in a perfect storm with the stock of public and private housing reducing and rent increasing, in a decreasing rental market.

“The health and well-being of our community is very important to council and we will be looking at how council can provide tangible assistance to to address the need in our community. “As an example, in Murray Bridge, the council partnered with the community and non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity to remodel a vacant community housing duplex to create four units for young people at risk of homelessness.

These are the types of projects I would like to see council consider supporting.” Mayor Martin met with chief executive Shane Maddocks, Homelessness Services manager Trish Sparks and Marketing and Communications manager Jason Wallace to discuss how to address the growing issue of homelessness in the community and seek innovative solutions.

“The issues we are increasingly seeing with rent stress and housing affordability pushing people to the brink of homelessness require a whole of community approach to advocate for greater attention from government and development of long-term solutions to increase support and housing availability for vulnerable people in regional South Australia,” Mr Maddocks said.

Council resolved to write to the State and Federal governments and individual parliamentarians to lobby for increased funding to expand the stock of social and community housing available in Mount Gambier and throughout the Limestone Coast.

Council also plans to put the issue of homelessness on the agenda for discussion at the Local Government Association SA Annual General Meeting in October this year.

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