St Margaret's News March 2016 - Page 4

Director’s Weekly Edition 15/3/16 My Vote for Housing As some of you will already know, Stuart’s father died last week after suffering a fall the previous week. Stuart is currently in Newcastle with his family. I am sure you will all join with me in offering him our sincere condolences. We have been seeing an increase in the number of young people (under 25) seeking our help recently. Sometimes it is a concerned relative who rings us on behalf of the young person. Often they are couch surfing or living on the streets because they cannot live at home for a variety of reasons. As many of you know, there is an acute shortage of accommodation in Canberra for people who are homeless or on low incomes. It is much worse if you are a young person as well with crisis accommodation very limited and few longer term options. We are very lucky to have our wonderful Youth Worker, Zack on staff. I refer our queries about young people to him and he follows up with each one. Sometimes he seemingly performs miracles in finding accommodation for them. Nevertheless, homelessness across all age groups is a really important issue in Canberra especially with winter approaching. For each person that St John’s Care can help to find accommodation (and that is very few since we need to use First Point which rarely has anything available), there are many more that we cannot help. Canberra has the second highest rate of homelessness in Australia with reports indicating that one in every 200 Canberrans is homeless. Another report also indicated that some 20,000 households are suffering some form of rental stress where they must spend in excess of 30 percent of their income just to keep a roof over their heads. Often it only takes one significant setback such as losing a job, illness or escaping domestic violence and they too can find themselves homeless. You may have read about the My Vote for Housing campaign which was launched on Monday to coincide with Canberra Day and is being run by ACOSS and ACT Shelter. It is aiming to put the lack of affordable housing for homeless and low income people in Canberra on the political agenda as a priority for action in the lead up to the ACT election in October. Can I encourage you to see homelessness for both young and older Canberrans as a priority issue for this year. The My Vote for Housing campaign has four short videos which highlight aspects of this issue that often remains hidden to most of us. You may also want to indicate to our politicians that you see this as an area of critical need, whoever forms government after October. Wish list: tinned tomatoes, tinned fruit, tinned vegetables, large tins of tuna. - Rhonda Thorpe, Operations Manager St Margaret's News 4 Ma rch 2016