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Motels could ease housing pressure
Anew project aims to ease crisis housing problems in the Wimmera and south-west Victoria and discover how motels could help alleviate pressures.
Grampians Community Health will deliver the project. It will gain recommendations to fix service area gaps and improve outcomes for both moteliers and crisis accommodation service providers.
Grampians Community Health project facilitator Malcolm Hill said the project aimed to create safer, more reliable crisis accommodation options for service users.
Mr Hill said the use of motels for emergency accommodation had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
“However, POST-COVID a lot of accommodation options have dried up — particularly in tourist areas — as people travel more,” he said.
‘Family safety Victoria motels coordination project Wimmera South West’ is part of a state-wide initiative with funding from Family Safety Victoria.
Uniting Vic.tas group manager, homelessness and community support, Jerry Ham said there was a ‘significant’ shortage of affordable housing and rental properties in the Wimmera.
“It is making it extremely challenging to find safe and secure crisis and emergency accommodation for those in need,” he said.
“On any given night, there are people right across the Wimmera experiencing homelessness.
“We see young people, families and older people sleeping in cars, squatting or living in cold and dilapidated caravans with no running water or electricity. Some are sleeping on the streets, going house to house couchsurfing with family or friends because of a lack of options, or they are simply unable to afford to rent and most will say they feel unsafe.”
Mr Ham said crisis or emergency accommodation included any short-term accommodation option for people experiencing homelessness.
“Financial and other supports are provided by a local homelessness support agency such as Uniting,” he said.
“Motels and hotels are regularly used as crisis and emergency accommodation, but ultimately, we need more social and affordable housing.
“Motels and other accommodation providers play an important role in providing short-term accommodation to those in crisis.
“We support any initiative aimed at ensuring all crisis and emergency accommodation providers are able to provide safe, secure and quality living environments.”
Mr Hill said there were ongoing issues with finding emergency accommodation.
“POST-COVID-19, a lot of people are exploring Victoria and it’s common to hear that, over summer, motels will not be available so they can cater for tourists,” he said.
“Major employers are also said to be competing for motel rooms because they know they are going to need them for workers.”
Mr Hill said he was consulting both service providers and motels as part of the review. He will report to a local Specialist Family Violence Sector Advisory Group, which involves staff from Grampians Community Health and other services.
“At the moment we’re mapping the motels and the services used to house victim-survivors of violence and those in crisis, and we will consult crisis services and accommodation providers about their experiences and review what they can do and how they contribute more,” Mr Hill said.
“It will develop improved strategies to manage relationships with moteliers creating enhanced crossagency and cross-sector collaboration and information sharing.
“By the completion of the project in June 2023, Family Safety Victoria will have information and recommendations to safely accommodate in-crisis victim-survivors and their children.”
He said mapping services and facilities would mitigate the risk of perpetrators and victims being accommodated in the same facility, while protecting confidentiality.