Posted by Mllee Cox and Michael Crowe on Sep 08, 2022
Salvation Army member Barry Clarke was a recent guest speaker at the Port Fairy Rotary.  Barry is the Southwest Team Leader, Homelessness and heads up a team who deliver the Homelessness Program.  The program assists an average of 45 people per month and over past 12 months there have been 518 households  present for assistance.
Barry Clarke with President Graeme Cox
The program was created over 10 years ago to provide free support for people to get into the social housing system or the public housing system. Since the creation of the program the need for housing has far outweighed the accommodation available.  Initial wait times of weeks and months have now blown out to years due to the increasing demand.
Adults over 25 years experiencing homelessness can seek assistance from the Salvos. The staff assess the needs and risks and plan on how to move forward to find accommodation. There can be between 80-100 people at any one-time getting support in various ways. 1/3 of those were new, 2/3 are re-presentations.The main reasons for homelessness are family violence, eviction from their rental, or departure from share houses or the family home. Three quarters of presentations are single people. 5% of homeless people are “sleeping rough” the remainder are couch surfing or staying with family, where overcrowding is often occurring.
The Salvos work closely with other services such as Emma House and Brophy House.  Crisis accommodation is usually found in motels, hotels and caravan parks.  Support is also provided to low-income earners to get into private rentals including help with white goods, bond application and rent in advance.
Barry suggested that the longer-term solution to homelessness is more social housing and described one initiative in South Australia where a new rule has been made to ensure a certain percentage of every development has social housing to avoid clusters in housing estates.