No Fixed Address: tackling homelessness in Port Stephens

Tracy Rigby, Sharon Carley and Kelly Hammond getting busy serving up soup for the attendees at the No Fixed Address event. Photo: Marian Sampson.

THE ongoing lack of rental housing availability across Port Stephens has forced local families into homelessness, and one group of passionate residents have banded together, determined to create change.

No Fixed Address, a community event and homelessness fundraiser for the Yacaaba Centre, was held on August 19 at the Anna Bay Scouts Hall.

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Headed up by Port Stephens Councillor Leah Anderson, First National real estate agent Tracy Blosdale, Anna Bay Scout leader Tracy Train and Anna Bay local Kelly Hammond, the event aimed to bring awareness to the homelessness situation in Port Stephens and raise some much needed funds for vital local services.

Port Stephens Councillor Leah Anderson is determined to see change in Port Stephens in relation to the provision of housing stock for rentals.

Ms Anderson told News Of The Area, “We are raising awareness on homelessness in Port Stephens, we are doing the Vinnies Winter Sleepout first and foremost, we are doing online donations which we have now raised around $3,500 already, we are inviting people to drop off goods for the Yacaaba Centre and some gold coin donations for the Scout Hall who have provided the hall for the night.

“I have also raised a Notice Of Motion for Council on this, I will give staff credit they are working on it, it needs to be faster and it needs to be here now and Council needs to link in with the state and federal government to do something about the issue because it is bigger than anybody thinks.”

Clare Van Doorn, St Vincent de Paul Society’s North East Regional Director said, “The NSW Vinnies Community Sleepout plays a vital role in enabling the members of the St Vincent de Paul Society to provide support to locals facing hardship.

“There has been an increase in demand for support among residents in the Port Stephens area which has been heightened in light of the rising cost of living crisis.

“In the past year, St Vincent de Paul Society members supported 238 people in the Port Stephens Regional Council, encompassing Anna Bay, Mallabula, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, Raymond Terrace, Stockton and Tea Gardens, with 96 percent of calls for assistance occurring due to shortages of food.

“Housing is a huge concern in the Port Stephens region with two-thirds of the people assisted by the Society renting on the private market and 71 percent experiencing housing stress.

“The Port Stephens area has 156 applicants waiting for social housing, including seventeen listed for priority housing, according to the NSW Department of Communities and Justice Housing Register; some applicants are having to wait upwards of ten years for a place to live.

“We hope that by holding the Community Sleepout we can highlight the issues that exist in the Hunter region, while raising important funds and awareness for the invaluable work of our members supporting people in times of need,” she said.

The official event wrapped up at 8pm however a few stalwarts rugged up and slept rough in their cars.

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington told News Of The Area, “There is a housing crisis in Port Stephens, I think the community is really concerned and tonights an opportunity to shine a light on the issue and to support those facing desperate times,” she said.

Around 50 people turned up to the event which was supported by the Rotary Club of Salamander Bay, SPAR, Ruby Blu, and First National Real Estate and Anna Bay Scouts.


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