A critical lack of housing on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula is leaving people who have been pushed out of rental properties sleeping in cars and hopping between caravan parks, residents say.
- Housing availability is an ongoing issue on the Fleurieu Peninsula
- Elderly renters facing eviction from homes are under particular stress, with nowhere to go
- Homelessness support service Junction Australia says some local families are living in cars and caravans
Victor Harbor’s Sue Duncan, 62, is one such person, facing eviction from her rental property at the end of March when her landlord moves back from overseas and into the home.
“We’re really sort of stuck as to where [we go], because my housemate has been to a couple of places for rent and there’s been so many people lined up, probably about 30, 40 people lined up for the same house,” Ms Duncan said.
“It’s crazy, and the prices, I think one house was $520 a week.
“Who can afford that, unless you’re getting some astronomical amount of pay?”
Ms Duncan, who works in the disability sector, said the thought of having nowhere to go was hard, especially as an older person.
She has also heard stories of others experiencing homelessness, including a woman sleeping in her car outside the local Woolworths every night until someone noticed and helped her secure temporary accommodation.
“It’s very frightening, especially when you get older,” Ms Duncan said.
“I lived in a shed for three months before here with my dog, and that was during winter, and that was just really hard.”
Although she has applied for community housing, she knows there are long wait times to secure properties.
“What do you do? You can’t live in your car, what about all your possessions?”
Ms Duncan is far from the only Fleurieu resident facing homelessness, with increasing numbers of people posting on social media pages asking for places to park cars and caravans — made harder by booked out caravan parks across the region.
Community crisis forum held
Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) data shows Victor Harbor to be one of the top three regional towns for growth in 2021, with a 26.44 per cent jump in the 12 months to December 2021.
Similar to figures around the country, REISA also noted an 8.46 per cent increase in regional median house prices around the state between December 2020 and 2021.
The growing issue prompted a crisis forum led by the South Coast Progressive Women’s Group this week, attended by about 70 members of the public, Greens, Independent and One Nation MP candidates for Finniss and council representatives.
One registered nurse who spoke at the event told attendees that some elderly people she supports in Goolwa were being kicked out of properties they had rented for decades.
“It’s becoming a major issue, a lot of these people have got packages through the My Aged Care program, but we’re getting them coming in … in tears because they’re having to move out of their homes.
“I’ve got at least half a dozen who have to be out by June because their homes are going on the market, and they have absolutely nothing to go to.”
‘Huge’ numbers of people seeking help
Junction Australia’s early intervention and prevention worker in the Fleurieu, Jodie Price, also attended the forum.
The organisation is currently working with real estate agents to prevent homelessness through its Staying Home on the Fleurieu program, which aims to intervene and “stop the breakdown of housing situations” as early as possible.
In the past six months, 224 people — 98 men and 126 women — have sought help through Junction’s services in the Fleurieu.
“Those women are just desperate to find a property [as] their rentals are ending.”
Junction chief executive Maria Palumbo says the situation is “certainly getting worse”.
“We are seeing more families who are now homeless — single parents often with two or three children living in caravans and even cars,” she said.
“Because of the increase in the price of property, many owners are taking the opportunity to sell their homes or raise rents.
“This means a lot of people who have previously had long-term, stable housing haven’t had leases renewed and there is literally nowhere for them to go.”
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