Homelessness and housing in Mount Gambier is an ongoing issue a local councillor wants to see addressed by the new State Labor Government.
Elected member Sonya Mezinec brought the topic to the attention of fellow councillors at Mount Gambier City Council’s ordinary meeting.
It is not the first occasion the issue has been highlighted by Cr Mezinec.
Over the past 12 months Cr Mezinec with other council representatives have been advocating on the issue.
“Immediately before the State Election, homelessness and associated service providers along with council representatives met with the Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell,” Cr Mezinec said.
Together they discussed issues in the sector to determine immediate priorities that could be presented to the newly elected State Government for immediate attention.
Cr Mezinec said this followed work undertaken by council over the last 12 months with the homelessness and housing sector in advocating for improvements in this sector.
“Advocating for improvements has been in response to the critical shortage of affordable rental accommodation that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
This collaboration with the homelessness sector resulted in several meetings involving council.
Further to this, council resolved to forward a motion titled Housing Affordability for inclusion in the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly to be held in June.
Cr Mezinec acknowledged Labor’s public housing policy and its pre-election promise to be undertaken over the next four years.
She said this included building 400 new homes, 150 of which would be built in five regional areas including Mount Gambier.
Cr Mezinec put forward a notice of motion that council write to the Premier Peter Malinauskas and Human Services Minister Nat Cook in regards to the issue.
“The purpose of the motion is to ensure the pledges to address the public housing shortage made by the newly elected Labor government are implemented,” she said.
“These measures will not only address the pressures faced by the homelessness sector in assisting their clients but have the flow on effect of alleviating demand pressures in the private rental market.”
Forming her motion, Cr Mezinec requested 350 currently vacant houses be upgraded and improve a further 3000 public homes through a “maintenance blitz”.
She also requested that promised vacant housing upgrades be started immediately to help address the current “chronic” rental housing shortage in Mount Gambier.
Cr Mezinec moved that council continue to liaise with local homelessness sector services in advocating for improvements in social and community housing for the community.
She requested that recommendations, identified by homelessness and associated services in Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast region, be implemented as a matter of urgency.
Cr Mezinec moved that approvals for crisis accommodation funding be administered and allocated locally by the relevant homelessness services, rather than through SAHA Adelaide.
“To provide a more effective and timely response to emergency accommodation requests, thereby minimising additional stress and uncertainty already experienced by homeless clients in crisis,” she said.
“Increase funding for crisis and emergency housing accommodation to enable services to meet increasing demand.
“Funding for this sector has only increased in line with CPI for the last 10 years, yet the breadth of services required to be provided by homelessness services has increased during that time.
“When building new public and social housing ensure that one-bedroom and two-bedroom properties with low maintenance requirements are included in the property mix.”