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Struggle to shelter families suddenly homeless

| 26.05,09. 10:23 AM |

Struggle to shelter families suddenly homeless

May 26, 2009 12:00am

THOUSANDS of NSW families are being housed in hotels, motels, pubs and refuges across the state at a cost of $305,000 a week - what welfare agencies describe as a human crisis not seen since the Great Depression.

To add to the burden, Sydney's housing stock has reached tipping point, with the Housing Department forced to send families to $100- a-night hotels.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that 30,406 people - or 3000 a month - have been put into temporary housing such as motels and hotels since last July, with anecdotal evidence suggesting many were victims of the financial crisis.

The figures show an alarming increase - more than 30 per cent - in the number of families being forced to flee their home suburbs in search of work and shelter.

It has been revealed the State Government is paying up to $4000 a night to accommodate 40 people a week in the Katoomba area alone because there was no space left in Sydney to house them. In some cases children have been taken out of school as their parents are relocated.

The cost of the social crisis has fallen on NSW taxpayers, with the bill soaring to $1.2 million a month to provide temporary accommodation for people who have lost their jobs, can no longer afford to pay their rent or have lost their homes.

Blue Mountains Salvation Army officer Colin Young said his organisation was struggling to cope with the exodus of people to the mountains and had asked for emergency assistance from the Government.

"We have seen people who formerly lived as far afield as Campbelltown, Parramatta, Mt Druitt and even interstate," he said.

"You'd have to go back to the Depression when people were on the road looking for work and homes . . . it's that bad.

"I've never seen it before, not like this, it's incredible, it feels like you are being overwhelmed."

He said his agency was putting on an extra 120 breakfasts a week for people who couldn't afford a meal.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said that the situation was developing into a human and social crisis.

"I fail to see the logic in the Rees Government putting families up in motels well away from their local area," he said.

"It's totally unacceptable for the Government to dump families on the Salvation Army."



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