Sapphire Coast not so sparkling for some

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The Bega Valley Shire is one step closer to getting more crisis and short-term accommodation following a housing summit yesterday.

The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast says the Bega Valley Shire is closer to building extra crisis and short-term low cost accommodation, following a housing summit at Bega yesterday.

The housing summit comes amidst growing concerns nationally and locally about an increase in homelessness, with wages stagnant, the cost of living spiralling, and housing in the rental and buyers market beyond the reach of some.

Social Justice Advocates' Michael Brosnan was at the summit and said in the Bega Valley there is “about 50 people who are in need of homes each night.”

“Many sleep in cars, we’ve heard of older people sleeping in cars, we having people sleeping behind buildings and then there’s the young people who just move around,” he said. 

He said homeless young people couch surf and often don’t come forward to agencies or welfare organisations.

The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast has six caravans, two rooms available, one in Merimbula and one in Bega, and a unit in Pambula for crisis accommodation. Mr Brosnan says their work is funded through a charity op-shop run for five weeks at Christmas time in Pambula each year.

He says the group has been lobbying the Bega Valley Shire Council for some time to provide assistance for the homeless. “One of the policies of the Council is that it provides affordable housing for all in the community, it’s actually a stated part of their brief. We’ve been lobbying the Council for quite a long while to extend this provision and make sure we accommodate those people who need it most.”

Mr Brosnan says at the housing summit yesterday Council went further on its promise to provide land for crisis housing, telling the stakeholders an audit of possible land and buildings had been conducted.

“What they will do is lease us land at a nominal rate, and then we will be able to partner with others to provide portable low-cost affordable housing,” he said. 

Mr Brosnan says his wish is for five houses, or units, to be built in different parts of the shire.