Free hot soup and musical entertainment will be on offer at the Mechanics Institute in Kyneton next Tuesday as the community gathers together to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness.
In Australia there are more than 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
Homelessness Week, which runs from August 1 to 7, aims to educate people on what homelessness looks like and how they can make a difference.
Sleeping rough accounts for only seven per cent of homelessness, with other forms including couch surfing, staying with friends and sleeping in cars or tents.
With the increase in interest rates, rental prices and the rising cost of utilities, fuel and groceries, housing insecurity is expected to increase.
Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health’s small team of housing workers provide support for people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness. This can include assisting with finding short-term emergency accommodation, as well as case management and advocacy to improve someone’s situation and find long-term housing, but options are increasingly limited.
“There are only about 45 public housing properties across the whole of the Macedon Ranges,” says Kate Weston, who leads the housing team at Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health.
“These have long-term tenants in and only one or two become vacant each year.
“In the past 12 months we have assisted over 200 families and individuals, 28 of those have been young people under the age of 25. We have also responded to 48 emergency accommodation requests.”
The organisation sees housing affordability impacting all types of people, including older men and women who are finding themselves unable to afford the rising costs of housing after 50 years of living and working in the community.
It also affects young people, families, and women and children fleeing family violence.
“Often people have no option but to move out of the area in order to find affordable accommodation,” Ms Weston says.
“But this is far from ideal and causes great anxiety as families are separated from the community they know and where their support network, schools and jobs are.”
The soup kitchen is on Tuesday August 2 from 12pm to 1pm at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute, 81 Mollison Street.