By Quentin Jukes
Homelessness is spreading and it is certainly present here in rural Rodney. Wellsford, Warkworth, Snells Beach, Araparera and Leigh all have people who are largely hidden, but living in cars, campgrounds and garages. For many years, soaring house prices and skyrocketing rents have stretched and broken people’s ability to be housed adequately. Whether it is seven people squashed into a two bedroom flat or a single man sleeping on the veranda of a Warkworth Church – the problem in our community is fast getting worse.
Imagine the insecurity and constant worry of trying to get your children to school when you are not sure where you will be sleeping tonight or in a week’s time. How is it for a child? What is it like trying to make and maintain friendships, or wanting to be in a sports team when your family has had to move four or five times in the last year.
Fundamentally, being housed is about having a home – somewhere stable and healthy, which enables a family to thrive.
At Homebuilders, we are meeting more and more people who are fabulous budgeters, often working two or more jobs, and still unable to make ends meet. From what we see in our work the issue of homelessness is largely not about people making “bad choices”, it is about the “housing market” being about making money rather than making homes.
We are lucky to have a supportive and caring community in North Rodney, and while individual acts of kindness and generosity are hugely welcome and essential to living in a civilised society, individual charity is no answer to a systemic problem as large and entrenched as that faced in the area of housing. We will need a sustained programme of building low cost accommodation both in this community and around the country if we are to have any chance of turning this tide around. Without immediate action on a huge scale this issue will only continue to get worse, faster. The human impact of this issue continuing to spiral out of control in the short and long-term is appalling to consider.