It’s early Monday morning and Centacare Service Delivery Manager and head of the housing support team Jodie Anson has just received a call from Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre. There is a young woman sleeping rough on the footpath outside the centre. She’s been there all weekend.
Ms Anson heads over to the centre and finds she has constructed a makeshift shelter using a tarp tied to a tree. Her bed is a yoga mat and she has a couple of bags of clothes with her.
Ms Anson establishes that the young woman has travelled up from Brisbane having been unable to find secure housing in the capital city. She has friends and family in the Fraser Coast area and is trying to locate them.
Ms Anson gives her a hygiene pack, which contains soap, shampoo, a toothbrush and a fresh towel and helps her to the Neighbourhood Centre where she can have a hot shower.
She then sets about trying to access emergency accommodation, checking in with the Department of Housing and a network of community and government agencies.
“There’s not always housing immediately available but we’ll do our very best to assist people find somewhere safe and secure to live,” said Ms Anson.
Centacare’s housing support team walks alongside people who are experiencing homelessness to identify immediate supports and pathways to safe and permanent accommodation. Operating in Hervey Bay, the team responds to calls from concerned members of the community and visits people who are sleeping rough in parks, vehicles and on beaches. The program also provides short term housing to women and families in the Hervey Bay area.
The number of outreach support services provided by the team increased from nine in the March 2022 quarter to 38 in the June quarter. Ms Anson estimates there are 1,800 to 2,000 people homeless in the region.
The theme for Homelessness Week (1-7 August) is ‘to end homelessness we need a plan’.
Ms Anson says the rental market has diminished significantly since the Queensland border opened and hopes the shortage of affordable housing options will be high on the agenda for governments.
“In the past year, more than 130,000 people migrated to Queensland. A major shift to owner-occupier status rather than investment properties has meant some of the homes on the Fraser Coast are now more than double the price,” said Ms Anson.
“Older people are now the largest group of people we support. This week we are providing support to an elderly couple who have lost their rental property after 20 years. The owner is cashing in on the market.
“We’ll work with our networks to try and find them affordable, stable accommodation and support them in every way we can. There is no wrong door at Centacare. If we are unable to support you, we’ll find someone that can.”
Centacare’s delivers the Homeless Services program with funding from the Queensland Government. The service is also supported by the generosity of donors, who enable Centacare to provide groceries, fuel vouchers and counselling.