Pastor Garry Dronfield is concerned about the shortage of affordable rental housing in Lismore.
Pastor Garry Dronfield is concerned about the shortage of affordable rental housing in Lismore.

Big Wet brings a crisis for homeless

By HELEN JACK helen.jack@northernstar.com.au ONGOING rain has led to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking crisis accommodation in Lismore.

And Uniting Church pastor Garry Dronfield, who helps the people find and keep their homes, is battling government departments and real estate agents to give them a chance.

He said some of the people seeking his help at the Red Dove centre in Keen Street, Lismore, are homeless people who can find no dry spot to bed down.

“And some are families who are struggling to pay the high rents being charged,” he said.

“I go into bat for them, but in the end they are often kicked out of their accommodation

“Rent prices are way over the top and Housing NSW say they do not have enough houses.”

Pastor Dronfield said he believed there was vacant Housing NSW accommodation in Lismore

A Housing NSW spokesman said there were 11 vacant Housing NSW homes in Lismore of which six had been offered to applicants, two were being demolished and redeveloped and three were being repaired.

Pastor Dronfield said rents had become so high in the Northern Rivers that, in some cases, they were often more expensive than mortgage repayments.

“I have been with people looking at properties with exorbitant%rental prices and there are 15 to%20 people there also wanting a place and willing to pay the (high) rent.

“People on low incomes just don’t get a look-in.” Pastor Dronfield wants guidelines to regulate rents.

“Finding a place under $280 a week is impossible,” he said. “I know of a house in Lismore that has cracks in the floor and walls, the laundry is under the house and the kitchen is old and has two tenants, one paying $180 per week and the other paying $140 per week.”



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