Residents pushed to brink

The intensifying housing crisis across country South Australia is pushing unprecedented numbers of people to the brink of homelessness, with emergency accommodation at capacity as people struggle to afford increases in rent and the cost of living.

Regional homelessness service ac.care has already supported more people seeking help to secure or maintain a tenancy in the first half of the year than it is normally approached by annually, pushing resources to the limit.

ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said the situation had become so dire tents were being handed out by the agency’s Limestone Coast, Murraylands and Riverland homelessness services every week as some people were left with no other options as emergency accommodation options were full and waiting lists continued to grow.

“Things are becoming pretty desperate when a tent is the only option available for people to at least stay dry at night, especially during winter in country South Australia,” Mr Maddocks said.

“Sadly, there just are no other options available in a growing number of cases.”

“A lack of available housing in country areas, coupled with increasing property prices pushing up the cost of rent, is making it harder than ever for many people to maintain a tenancy or find an affordable home.”

A Code Blue declared by the State Government has provided additional emergency funding for ac.care to support rough sleepers to move into motels and other accommodation until today, but Mr Maddocks said more long-term solutions were needed.

“Code Blue declarations have ensured we can get more people out of the cold during recent bouts of extreme weather, but people are becoming more desperate,” Mr Maddocks said.

Mr Maddocks said the diversity of people seeking ac.care’s support was now extending to workers moving to country areas for employment and being unable to secure accommodation.

However, Mr Maddocks said ac. care had to prioritise working with people on low incomes who often faced challenges accessing affordable and appropriate housing due to limited employment opportunities, social exclusion, isolation and other factors.

Mr Maddocks said staff were doing all they could to help people sustain or secure tenancies to avoid homelessness and urged anyone at risk of losing a stable home to seek support early, such as ac. care’s emergency relief and financial counselling, to avoid a crisis later.

He called for anyone with spare housing options, such as short-term accommodation or share houses, to consider making more homes available via the private rental market.

“People of all backgrounds are desperate for housing and increasing the options available helps everyone because supply of affordable housing is simply not meeting demand,” he said.

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