THE number of homeless people on the Mornington Peninsula is increasing and waiting lists for emergency housing are getting longer.
That sad truth, made plain by Office of Housing statistics, is a stark daily reality to SalvoCare Eastern Rosebud coordinator Judy Cooper.
She spoke to The News last week while out shopping for food supplies to help feed those desperate for help.
“More people are presenting; there are always more people seeking help,” she said.
Her comments come in the lead up to Homelessness Week: 4-10 August, with its theme “Housing Ends Homelessness’’.
The plight of the homeless on the peninsula was highlighted in the Catholic Social Services Victoria forum: Homelessness – what can parishes do, held at the Cardinal Knox Centre, Melbourne, on 8 June (“Catholic call for homeless help” The News 4/6/19).
The latest figures show numbers on the peninsula grew by 10 per cent from 2011 up to the 2016 Census. Helpers say many homeless are “going under the radar because it is not something people want to talk about”.
The forum was told these included those sleeping rough, couch surfing, living in boarding houses, emergency accommodation, or “severely crowded dwellings”.
Practical efforts on the peninsula to provide part-solutions were highlighted in the push to establish Tiny Houses Victoria as an affordable alternative to homelessness. They would particularly suit those facing eviction from their former homes in caravan parks, such as Capel Caravan Park, which is making way for development.
The small houses project – being run by former Liberal candidate for Nepean Russell Joseph and affordable housing advocate Wayne Iremonger – could be established in eco-villages in semi-rural locations or unused public land.
“I applaud what Russell and Wayne are trying to do,” Ms Cooper said. “Any form of accommodation would help be it a Tiny House, converted barn, rental property, or a caravan park.
“We just need something because there is very little public housing here.”
She estimated about 60 people slept rough on the foreshore each night.
Many homeless people used the Southern Peninsula Laundry and Shower Program (SPLaSH) which offered the use of showers, washing machines and dryers with soap, shampoo, towels and laundry powder provided. Snacks, tea and coffee are also on hand. It runs 11.30am-2.30pm Thursdays at the foreshore amenities block opposite Boneo Road, Rosebud.
Salvos staff attend once a month to help users fill in public housing application forms. “They don’t want them to go into rooming houses,” she said.
“We look after four registered rooming houses and we have had success in getting people rehoused and into jobs and having stable food supplies. Some have gone on to private houses,” Ms Cooper said.
Money raised through the Salvos Red Shield Appeal assists the Rosebud Rooming House Project, which will soon expand to Hastings.
“We can’t just let people languish,” Ms Cooper said. “They have been marginalised.
“We are helping them do courses; get them computers and do focus groups.
“We ask them what they want and then do our darnedest to get it.”
Ms Cooper said food security was paramount. “If there’s no food there’s a big problem.”