A Warrnambool mother says her son has been rejected over 50 times for private rental properties and cannot find public housing despite being a young professional.
Julie O'Connor says her son, 27, has been homeless for more than two years even though he has lived in Warrnambool in Victoria's south west his whole life and is working full-time as a postman. She is calling for local government to "step up and stop" the south-west's housing crisis.
"It's being called 'professional homelessness' now," she said.
"You've got a big problem here and nobody wants to listen. People say Warrnambool is Victoria's most liveable city, but I would say it's actually the most unliveable city."
Figures obtained by South West Coast MP Roma Britnell showed that in the March quarter in the Warrnambool/Portland region there were 819 people on the public housing wait list, 478 of which were listed as priority.
With 965 housing properties in Warrnambool, the current waiting list figures almost match the same number of houses needed.
Ms Britnell said she acknowledged that housing in the south-west was "at crisis point".
"Not a day goes by where my office isn't contacted by someone struggling to find a home, we do our best to ensure they have access to services, but everything is so stretched, and I know people are falling through the cracks - it's a heart-breaking situation."
Ms O'Connor said her son was evicted from his Garden Street home in September 2019 after the owner of the property wanted to move in. Looking after his sick father-in-law at the time, her son moved his wife and two sister-in-laws into a friend's property on Liebig Street where he has been staying.
Feeling "frustrated and angry" at what she believes is a lack of housing support in the south-west, Ms O'Connor says she has contacted all local services.
"I've been to Salvation Army on Lava Street and tried to put him on a list through their housing program, but they can't do much," she said.
"I've also called Bethany (Community Support) who are supposed to help people, but they can't help him either. Brophy (Family and Youth Services) can't help because it's only for under 25s. Then of course you have the DHHS who he also has an application with.
"Nothing's been done for my family since 2019 and we always get the same answer from real estate agents - 'just reapply'. A person can only take so much."
Ms O'Connor is now calling for an increase in housing support and the redevelopment of vacant land to service the homeless.
"There's only one worker at Bethany that deals with VCAT - he does the whole district," she said.
"You need more services out here in Warrnambool because now you're getting people from the city moving into regional towns because of coronavirus.
"There's plenty of land here, for example the old Wave school is sitting there doing nothing. Why can't they open that up for the homeless? At least get them out of the cold and things. Use old buildings away from town."
In late 2020, $25 million was allocated to the Warrnambool local government area as part of the Big Housing Build.
Ms Britnell says despite the large sum, "there isn't any detail about when that will begin or what type of dwelling and how many will be built".
"That looks like a lot of money on paper - but if you say that it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to buy a block and build on it, that will only deliver between 50 and 70 properties - obviously a few more if you are building multiple units on one block," she said.
"We also know that government contracts always seem to cost more than what it would if it was a private builder, so when you add in that 'government premium' you will get even less properties built."
Ms Britnell said she was concerned the government had committed the large sum without a plan of how to deliver it.
"So far, the (Planning) Minister Richard Wynne has only said the number and type of houses built in the Warrnambool region will become known as the program progresses," she said.
"This project is too important for money to be lost to waste - every dollar must be used to deliver as many social housing properties as possible."
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