Homelessness rife across twin cities

THE case of a homeless couple forced to live in their car is the tip of the iceberg in the Border’s affordable housing crisis.

In the past two days, two more pregnant women were turned away after being told emergency accommodation in Albury was at capacity.

Chief executive of Albury’s YES Youth and Family Services, Di Glover, said staff at The Hub saw many cases of people living in their cars, camping or couch surfing.

They had recently noticed a trend of people moving to the Border because they saw it as a place of opportunity but faced homelessness on arrival.

Ms Glover said, on average, they turned away one or two expectant parents a week looking for somewhere to stay.

“It’s terrible that it happens but we very much see this as the tip of the iceberg — our services are saturated,” Ms Glover said.

She and members of the Triple H (housing, homelessness and human services) forum had called for residents appalled by Jane and Paul’s case to harness their goodwill and energy to help in the persistent daily cases of homelessness.

In the 12 months to June this year, for every young person in Albury given help to put a roof over their head, there were another one or two who had to be turned away.

YES Supported Accommodation Services, which runs the Broughton House Youth Refuge, helped 99 young 

people into crisis and long-term accommodation.

But a further 148 young people in need of emergency housing were left out in the cold because available accommodation was full.

In Wodonga, the Rural Housing Network meets 16 to 25 people a week who are homeless or unable to find housing.

Operations manager Celia Adams expects the latest census data on homelessness to reveal Wodonga was worse than many other cities.

“Homelessness seems to be hidden in rural and regional areas because people couch surf, you don’t see people sleeping on park benches like you do in the city,” she said.

“In Wodonga there is no such thing as emergency housing for people who are homeless.”

Despite the increase in demand and complexity of cases, YES Supported Accommodation Services has not received any boost in government funding for the past 15 years.

Ms Glover said organisations did what they could but needed help from both the government and the community.

She called on the public to get involved in tackling the important social issue, by contacting the Triple H forum at triplehforum@gmail.com.