Housing squeeze putting pressure on local families

Kristy Dukes and her family.

 

HOUSING is increasingly hard to find, especially in Port Stephens.

Kirsty Dukes is a single mother to three children; two boys and one girl.

Her two boys have autism and ADHD ODD and her daughter has ADHD.

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Kirsty has been trying to find housing for her family, however it is increasingly difficult.

Kirsty Dukes told News Of The Area, “I left a domestic violence situation and moved in with my brother and his wife.”

That situation didn’t prove to be ideal for Kirsty and her family.

They are now currently living at a friend’s mum’s cabin.

However, this again isn’t ideal as Kirsty is driving 1hr and 30 mins to drive her children to school as she is trying to keep a routine for the children.

“All the kids just want a roof over their heads, my eldest boy is turning thirteen on 16 June and all he wants is a roof over his head so we can at least have a party with his new friends.”

Kirsty believes that stability and routine is key in the family’s life.

Housing uncertainty can cause an increase in anxiety for her and her children.

Kirsty said, “I’m feeling like a complete failure to my children, I’ve got all my emails from what I’ve been applying for and it’s just rejection after rejection.

“It’s ridiculous, it feels like I’m being discriminated against for being a single mother,” she said.

The children also have a companion dog which Kirsty said they have had to leave at a friend’s house.

Kirsty’s is just one example of a family in crisis with nowhere to live.

Brooke Vitnell is a local solicitor who has previously worked for The Federal Minister for Families and Social Services as a Senior Adviser and the Federal Minister for Employment and Minister for Women.

Brooke told News Of The Area, “The most common reason that women in general end up homeless is escaping a domestic violence situation or family law proceedings.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin told News Of The Area, “The NSW Government works to provide social housing to eligible applicants as quickly as possible, prioritising those most in need, including people who are homelessness, escaping domestic violence or with severe and ongoing medical conditions.

“The $1.1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund is delivering 3,400 new homes across NSW, including hundreds in the Hunter and Central Coast.

“There is also a range of housing assistance products available including help for people to rent in the private market. “Support is available to help people pay rent, cover rental bonds and to sustain tenancies.

“One such program is Rent Choice Start Safely, which supports people escaping domestic and family violence with a subsidy that enables them to secure housing and receive support services.

“Anyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness can contact Link2home on 1800 152 152.

“Support is available 24-7, every day of the year,” he said.

Anne Fletcher of Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services said, “We are funded to see 348 individuals per annum in 2019-2020 we saw 444 in 2020-21 782 individuals all seeking urgent help.”

There are more people out there that are couch surfing and domestic violence is the main reason for homelessness in women 25-45 aged range.

“There simply aren’t enough places for those in need.

“It’s very complex,” she said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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