• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

South Australians forced to camp in tents due to housing affordability crisis and cost of living pressures

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 10, 2022

Meagan pays $300 a week to camp in a tent at a caravan park in the western suburbs of South Australia.

But RV parks only allow a maximum stay of 55 days, forcing Meagan to come and go.

Meagan, who asked that her last name not be used, had to put herself on the waiting list for social housing for the first time.

“I have always rented privately, I have never been on the HLM list [before],” she says.

South Australia has around 16,000 people on the public housing waiting list, of which around 3,600 are considered priority.

The average waiting time for Category 1 cases in South Africa is around seven months.

Meagan, a single mother who receives disability compensation, said she has applied for about 40 properties in the western suburbs since her previous lease was not renewed.

The latest cost of living report released by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) showed the price of new rentals in South Africa increased by 7.2% in the 12 months to December 2021 , more than double the general inflation rate.

The report also showed that the number of social housing fell from 9.9% of the housing market in 2000 to 6.7% in 2021.

Meagan said it had been “absolutely awful” staying in a tent, especially during Adelaide’s recent storms.

“I woke up at 3 a.m. and sat in the kitchen, because they have a nice kitchen here,” she said.

“There were other couples sleeping on the kitchen floor so I can imagine how they felt, because I have a good tent but there are other people in there living in nothing, like tiny little things.”

Meagan said there were others in the trailer park in the same situation as her and she had also seen groups of people sleeping rough in the area.

“The situation is horrible,” she said.

Michelle Lensink says more should be done to support people like Meagan.(ABC News)

Shadow Social and Community Housing Minister Michelle Lensink said the state government should do more to help people like Meagan.

“I’m surprised there is no property available for someone like Meagan in her situation,” she said.

“She should be the highest category on the list and I would be very surprised if there were no properties available in the locations she suggested.”

But Social Services Minister Nat Cook hit back at the criticism.

“I’m not going to be lectured by a Liberal government that hasn’t put new money into building social housing like good governments should,” she said.

Ms Cook contacted Meagan on Friday, after the media made her case public, and she was offered a hotel room.

Ms Cook said Housing SA had also indicated they could provide a ‘more permanent place to call home’ more quickly as Meagan was ready to ‘expand the area she is willing to live in’.

“We would expect that to make allocations a lot easier,” she said.

However, Ms Cook was unable to give a date when Meagan would receive a home.

A woman wearing a purple blazer and purple lipstick with a serious expression
Nat Cook says the government is working to address immediate housing issues as well as long-term issues.(ABC News)

Ms Cook said she was happy to be able to help Meagan, but there were still ‘hundreds and hundreds of people who needed this help’.

“In winter, there are hundreds of people without homes.

“It’s the worst time of year to be left outside in the cold and the rain, looking for food every day, and without your family and friends without you.”

Ms Cook said the government was working to address immediate and long-term housing issues, such as revising the private housing assistance scheme and emergency accommodation scheme, as well as upgrading housing existing social housing and the construction of 400 housing units.

Job , updated