A family of four have been left homeless and forced to live in a friend’s caravan amid Australia’s ongoing housing crisis.
Western Australian man Steven, who wished to be known only by his first name, his wife, two young children and their pets ended up homeless when they had to leave their last rental property.
Steven said he and his family are now living in a friend’s 4.5m long caravan in Bunbury, in the state’s southwest.
He said the limited space inside the caravan was problematic for his family.
A Western Australian family of four have been left living in a caravan after they had to leave their rental property
‘There’s just no space… I can barely stand up and move around in the caravan, let alone with three other people in there,’ the 38-year-old told 7News.
The family is now facing eviction from the van due to a strict 27-day stay limit enforced by the caravan park.
‘Then we will be moving into a tent… with our dogs as well as a six and a four-year-old running around, screaming and climbing trees and yelling at each other,’ Steven said.
The family have applied for multiple three-bedroom homes with the state’s homelessness services but have been told they must occupy a four-bedroom home.
‘We applied to be on the list and there were lots of three-bedroom homes, but they said we need to have a four-bedroom due to the number of people in our family… our pets and their policies,’ Steven said.
‘Somehow as a father… I don’t even get to decide with all these policies in play what is and isn’t suitable for my family.
‘I would think a roof over our head is more suitable than no roof.’
The family is now facing eviction from the van due to a strict 27-day stay limit enforced by the caravan park
Steven said his family are now officially classified as homeless and are eligible to receive help from the Salvation Army, but the organisation has flagged there will be a long wait for a home.
The struggling family are now considering setting up a three-room tent at another caravan park in regional Western Australia.
‘Then we can stick a tent there permanently and actually have a bit of space and a room for each of us,’ he said.
Steven said the tent will cost the family $300 per week to pitch.
‘We are really just trying to make the best out of a bad situation,’ he said.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the 2021 census showed there were about 9700 people in WA experiencing homelessness, of which 2315 were sleeping rough.
Across Australia, approximately 122,494 people experience homelessness on any given night, according to the 2021 census.
This was an increase of about 6067 people, or 5.2 per cent, since the previous census in 2016.
Approximately 122,494 people experience homelessness on any given night across the country (stock image pictured)
Housing advocates are urgently pushing for more commitment from the government to invest in social and affordable housing.
Everybody’s Home spokeswoman Maiy Azize said social housing stock was dwindling while housing stress and homelessness was on a sharp curve upwards.
‘Renting has never been less affordable,’ she said.
‘Housing stress has become the fastest growing cause of homelessness.’
Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Social Services has said the government should invest directly in more housing for people on the lowest incomes, and encourage super funds and individuals to invest in new affordable homes.
The Housing Australia Future Fund, touted by the federal government as the biggest-ever investment into affordable housing in Australian history, passed the Senate in September.
Based on a Grattan Institute proposal, the fund is expected to support the construction of 20,000 social homes and 10,000 affordable homes over the next five years.
The bill stalled in the Senate for months, with the Coalition opposing it and the Greens refusing to lend their support until Labor agreed to support a number of their own proposals for housing.
The Greens agreed to support the bill in exchange for another $1billion for social housing, on top of the $2billion in extra social housing funds the federal government gave to the states in June.