Geraldton housing ‘obscene’ as tent need up

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Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
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Pioneer Reserve, opposite Fremantle Train Station, has become home to many homeless people since Boxing Day, with a new tent city set-up to provide shelter and food for those without.
Camera IconPioneer Reserve, opposite Fremantle Train Station, has become home to many homeless people since Boxing Day, with a new tent city set-up to provide shelter and food for those without. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

Charitable organisations in Geraldton are feeling the brunt of the housing crisis as demand for not-for-profit services soar.

Since the end of the COVID-imposed ban on rent rises and evictions in March, The Salvation Army has handed out about 20 tents to people struggling to find somewhere to live, according to Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn.

Salvos’ Geraldton Corps officer Major Natalie Norman described the housing shortage as “frightening and confronting” for the community.

“Housing is a basic need and the wellbeing of our communities are linked to the ability for all to find safe refuge and security of a home,” she said.

Requests for assistance from the organisation had risen by at least 25 per cent compared with previous years, Ms Norman said.

“We have been handing out tents for the last three months,” she said.

“The intent is that they would be used in the short term but due to the housing crisis, many are having to stay in them longer until a permanent solution is found for a home.”

She said people from all backgrounds had sought help from the organisation, sharing stories of overcrowded housing, domestic violence, addiction, job losses and financial struggles.

Regional Alliance West legal centre representative Chris Gabelish said demand for the organisation had risen in recent months.

“Our observations show over the past year, rents have gone up 20 to 25 per cent,” he said, adding that without homes available “no support program is going to help”.

It’s becoming obscene. We’ve been screaming for years about the housing issue but nothing’s changed.

- Regional Alliance West legal centre representative Chris Gabelish.

“It’s becoming obscene,” Mr Gabelish said. “We’ve been screaming for years about the housing issue but nothing’s changed.”

Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton described the crisis as the “biggest issue” she’d seen in Geraldton since taking office in March and promised the State Government was working on solutions.

“It's a difficult time for a lot of people,” she said. “We were worried this would happen when the moratorium ended and it did.

“Unfortunately we can’t materialise houses overnight.”

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