Youth housing crisis

By Luke Voogt and Justin Flynn

Youths seeking emergency housing have increased by 60 per cent in a year at a major Geelong support agency amid concerns the region’s rapidly-increasing rental prices are fuelling the crisis.

National spokesperson for Australia-wide campaign Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin, cited Geelong and the Bellarine’s rent hikes while calling for urgent investment in social housing.

“The rising cost of rental properties pushes stable housing further out of reach for young workers who are increasingly in housing stress,” Ms Colvin said.

“The housing affordability crisis is even more dire for those on Youth Allowance. A person on Youth Allowance looking for a share house can afford less than one per cent of rentals.”

According to the SQM Research Weekly Rents Index, house rents went up by 15.8 per cent in central Geelong and 10.7 per cent on the Bellarine Peninsula in the year to April 20, 2021.

The figures come after Geelong recorded a net decrease of 82 ‘affordable dwellings’ in 2020, according to state government’s December 2020 quarterly rental report.

Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast have the fourth-lowest and lowest percentages of affordable housing out of all Victorian local government areas on 13.9 and 2.7 respectively, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Barwon Child, Youth and Family (BCYF) has recorded a spike in youth pleas for help.

“Over the past year, our crisis services saw an approximately 60 per cent increase in young people seeking emergency housing support across the region,” BCYF youth services manager Mandy Baxter said.

“Each year approximately 1200 young people seek homelessness support through BCYF.

“On any given night in the region, there are approximately 200 young people on the BCYF waitlist, who are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.

“They are coming to our youth services team for a number of reasons including housing stress due to loss of income, financial worry and family violence.

“Rental affordability in our region is also out of reach for many of the young people and families we work with.

“However, the single largest factor causing young people to enter the homelessness system is family conflict.”