Living costs concern

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

The soaring cost of utilities and rising cost of living has led to an increase in homelessness in the Capes region, according to Anglicare financial counsellor Sandie Groves.

Despite a decrease in housing affordability, Ms Groves said people were still struggling to meet financial needs and maintain independent housing because of low incomes, loss of jobs, and weekly rent costs.

“Public utilities and the cost of water and transport are through the roof and people are spending a huge portion of their spendable income on utilities,” she said.

“We are basically forcing people to live in poverty and making difficult decisions between basic needs is often compounded by physical and health problems.”

Ms Groves said she had seen an increase in homelessness and issues in terms of financial counselling needed in Margaret River.

“Local people have disbelief as to how much homelessness there is around Busselton and Margaret River,” she said.

“There are people living on the street, in abandoned housing and in cars. (The) majority of people want to have their own place to live, but if they are on a low fixed income and are a single person it is virtually impossible to maintain independent housing — that’s the day-to-day reality.”

In a visit to Busselton last week Anglicare chief executive Ian Carter told the Times “on any one night across WA there are about 10,000 homeless on the streets and there are 1341 beds available for them,” he said.

“So we do destine people to be forced into these situations — the choice is going out of people’s lives.”

Ms Groves said she connected with three to five clients a day, averaging about 15-20 a week.

“It’s not only people in financial difficulty, but people being proactive and asking for assistance,” she said.

“For many people it’s not that they haven’t got financial skills, it’s because of lack of jobs and the rising cost of living.

“Having this service has been lifesaving in many instances.”

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