Thriving city’s housing shortfall

Author: Jason Walls

18 Jul 2016, 12:14 p.m.
Haven; Home, Safe chief executive Ken Marchingo says there are limited options for people who suddenly find themselves homeless in Bendigo.
Haven; Home, Safe chief executive Ken Marchingo says there are limited options for people who suddenly find themselves homeless in Bendigo.

Diana Allie knows how it feels to have nowhere to go, having spent time living on the streets following a marriage breakdown and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder five years ago.

So when she and a friend noticed a man who appeared to be sleeping rough in Bendigo on Sunday she knew she had to help.

But when Ms Allie tried to find emergency accommodation for the man, even stumping up her own money to get him a place in a backpackers’ lodge, she discovered it was no easy task.

After inviting the man back to her house where she offered him a shower and a meal, Ms Allie got to work.

“I started ringing all these numbers [for homelessness services],” she said.

“We tried the two cheapest places I could find online for him to stay.

“[One of them] was $80 and I pleaded with the man to take the $50 which was all I had and I would come pay the other $30 today, and he just said ‘we don’t have that kind here’.”

With nowhere left to turn, and most of the city’s hotels and motels booked out for the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Ms Allie made the difficult decision to allow the man, whom she had met just hours earlier, to stay under her roof.

“What choice did I have?” she said.

“I can’t put my cat out in the cold, let alone put him out in the cold.”

Ms Allie drove the man to Haven; Home, Safe the next morning where she was hopeful the staff would have more luck.

HHS chief executive Ken Marchingo said crisis accommodation was hard to come by in Bendigo, especially on weekends.

Mr Marchingo said many of the cheap accommodation options which once existed in the region had now disappeared, leaving services like HHS reliant on more expensive options.

“The reality is that we are in a booming regional city, and as part of the booming regional city we have tremendously valuable events and showcases and sporting carnivals that happen almost every weekend, so as a result, almost every weekend whatever accommodation in town that’s available is fully booked,” he said.

“We could hope for nothing better than to see all of our commercial businesses booked out solidly for these big weekends because that’s fabulous for the city, and it creates a long tale of often low-skill jobs which is fabulous for the community and fabulous for our low-income-earners. The unfortunate thing though, is that yes, it does mean that people who are suddenly homeless don’t have any options.”

Camp out for homelessness cancelled

Haven; Home, Safe has been forced to cancel a planned fundraiser for homeless people in Bendigo.

The Car Camp Out had been planned for August 6.

“It is with great disappointment that we announce the cancellation of this year’s Car Camp Out fundraiser for the homeless,” HHH spokeswoman Sue Masters said.

“We recently discovered, and only by chance, that the showgrounds venue had been double-booked for 6 August. This posed significant traffic and event management issues.

“Unfortunately, there were no other suitable venues available able to safely and securely cater for up to 2000 campers and we were unable to rebook the entertainers, staging, security and support staff, etc, for a later date in August.

Ms Masters thanked those who had supported the event and apologised for the inconvenience.

All ticket holders have been reimbursed and HHH plans to hold a separate fundraiser during Homelessness Week in August.