Housing support – Western Port

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In Western Port, with donor partner Community Bank Balnarring and District, MPF funds the Housing Support Case Manager at Western Port Community Support (WPCS). This position is held by Laura Sutton who says, “The main issue I am seeing is the price of private rental properties. Until a few years ago, it was absolutely possible to pick up a cheaper, older unit in Hastings and manage on an aged or disability pension. That is now almost impossible. 55% of the income of someone on an aged pension is around $350 per week. It is extremely rare for a suitable property to be listed at that price these days anywhere across the Mornington Peninsula.

Laura continues, “People who have never previously accessed services are now needing to. I support numerous people who are fantastic tenants. They keep their homes beautifully and always prioritise their rent. However, they’re staying in accommodation that has increased to an amount that means they’re going without proper healthcare, not filling scripts or skipping meals so they don’t fall behind. They look around and there’s nowhere cheaper to go. Commonly when people are managing in a rental, they don’t meet criteria for priority public housing and even if they do, an offer of housing usually takes years. This means we need to look at private options which are often shared when on a low income. For people who are vulnerable, elderly or disabled this is often a really scary idea.”

A growing cohort of people at risk of homelessness is women over 55. Executive Officer at WPCS, Georgia Hourn says, “In one month Laura worked with 7 single women aged over 70 – two with terminal illnesses – who were all at risk of homelessness due to rent increases. The lack of affordable housing is grim. We are now having to subsidise some rents just to keep these women from becoming rough sleepers.”

While there isn’t a quick solution to the housing crisis, funding from MPF donors makes the vital support and advocacy offered at WPCS possible.

The program’s reach