Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
by Simon Duffy, Regional Manager, Mission Australia Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Tasmania has been greatly impacted by unprecedented increases in rent and a severe shortage of affordable housing. This means that even more people are grappling with the severe rental stress of paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, which is placing them on the brink of homelessness.
As a charity focused on ending homelessness and ensuring people and communities in need can thrive, here in Tasmania, Mission Australia has risen to the challenge and adapted to COVID-19 requirements, while remaining dedicated to delivering vital services and housing at this time of increased need.
As part of our work, we currently manage more than 500 social homes in Clarence Plains, across Rokeby and Clarendon Vale. But it is not enough to simply provide someone with the key to a house and hope that they will be alright. We aim to provide a person with a home to belong to, provide the right support services to help them sustain their tenancy and a community in which to connect and grow.
Mission Australia staff do everything we can to meet the needs of local people and families who need housing and support, and ensure they are connected to the services that they need. To achieve this we focus not just on supporting people and families to maintain their tenancy and look after their property, but we also nurture community development initiatives in partnership with local people and services so we can do our part to help Clarence Plains residents to thrive.
We match homes to people’s needs by taking care to ensure the type of property is suitable for individual and family needs. We have also supported a number of long-term tenants to move into smaller, newer homes that better meet their needs so it is easier for them to navigate and look after their home. When these tenants move, it helps to free up larger social homes for families in need of a safe, secure and supported place to call home.
Alongside this, we have partnered with the community and services in the Clarence Plains area to be part of the collective impact project One Community Together and we continue to invest time and resources into working alongside local residents to strengthen local community connections.
This approach – and the fact that there’s a severe shortage of social housing across our state – means we don’t have a lot of vacancies because people want to stay with us. Many of our tenants have been with us since we started delivering social housing in Clarence Plains in 2013. To meet the increased need we are continuing to see, Mission Australia’s Housing team is hoping to continue to grow our portfolio to supply more homes to Tasmanians in need. This includes houses we currently have under construction and more planned for the future.
We have a series of one and two-bedroom homes due by the end of the year, which will allow us to see more people facing homelessness housed and join the Clarence Plains community as it continues to transform.
Mission Australia wants to continue our growth into the future with the construction of even more social homes and the expansion of our services across more of southern Tasmania. Most importantly, we want to advance our commitment to ending homelessness and ensuring people and communities in need can thrive, and we want to do it in partnership with the community, with other service providers, with business-owners, with churches and with our tenants. We believe it is possible to end homelessness in Tasmania, but we need to face this challenge together. Because everyone deserves a safe, secure place to call home to stay well and thrive.