Mum’s plea days before becoming homeless

Renters struggling to make ends meet are pleading with the government for urgent changes. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

A struggling mother has revealed she will be homeless within days, telling a Senate inquiry she couldn’t get another job due to her disabilities or find a new home in time before her eviction.

The harrowing experience was revealed during a hearing in Canberra on Wednesday, as Australia’s leaders attempt to grapple with a housing crisis crippling the country.

A struggling mother planning to move her kids into a caravan to save money, a couple kicked out of their home by a landlord on Facebook messenger, and a family on the brink of homelessness were among renters detailing their horrific experiences.

Samira, a 48-year-old public servant who lives with multiple disabilities, said her family will be left homeless next month because there is no suitable housing available for them to move to.

Queensland Rental Crisis
More than 1,600 Australians are being pushed into homelessness every month due to the deepening housing crisis, according to Homelessness Australia. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard

She said the six people living in her “dilapidated, run-down” South Canberra home had just thirty days to find housing after her landlord gave a last-minute notice to vacate in June.

“I can’t afford to buy a house and I can’t get another job because of my disabilities,” the mother-of-two told Senators.

“It should be noted that our current residence is only one of the eight properties that the landowner owns.”

Another witness, a mother of two, said she was considering moving herself and her kids into a caravan to save money.

“It’s embarrassing asking for help, and it’s embarrassing calling the Salvos line asking for help, because I never thought I’d be in this situation in my life,” she told the inquiry.

She said her family lived off potatoes, eggs and gluten free pasta because they couldn’t afford basic groceries.

David pic
Senator David Pocock heard testimonies during an inquiry in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied.

Another renter, Sam, said she was left in a state of shock after her landlord of four years suddenly gave a notice to vacate on Facebook messenger.

She said it left her and her husband “frantically” scrambling to secure short term accommodation.

“I’ve been working homeless before, and I never wanted to go back to that again,” Sam said.

Access to public and social housing in the ACT has significantly declined from 12.4 per cent to less than 6 per cent in over a decade, the senate inquiry heard.

“We see wait times for social housing approaching nine months, to about four years for high needs, and realistically, if you’re on the general wait list, you’re not getting in,” ACT Shelter chief Travis Gilbert said.

“And that’s good, sadly, compared to other states and territories.”

J.R. Hewitt from the Renters and Housing Union said Australia’s housing system has wreaked poverty onto the majority of people who can’t afford to buy a house.

“The solution is not destroying public homes and replacing them with a mix of market social and affordable housing,” Mr Hewitt said.

“Housing is broken.”