Public forum to tackle Lismore housing affordability issues
THE ST Vincent de Paul Society in Lismore hopes its novel approach to a serious issue will get the local community talking.
The society has been increasingly worried about the lack of affordable housing in the Lismore local government area as more people turn to them for help with housing cost-related stress.
So it's hosting the Social Justice in the Pub community forum on June 2 to mull over ways the issue can be addressed.
Michael Timbrell, St Vincent de Paul Society Lismore Central Council executive officer, said the cost of housing was arguably the biggest driver of disadvantage and poverty.
Basically, people come to us with bills they can't pay. They're saying they've got no money for food, they can't afford food for the family, what are they going to do.
- Michael Timbrell
"When people come and ask for assistance, housing costs are usually the number one issue," he said.
"People are seeing a huge portion of their income swallowed up by rent ... people are spending sometimes 60 to 70% on their rent."
Mr Timbrell said the underlying issue was the lack of affordable housing.
"We don't have one-bedroom units and things like that. If you're a single person renting a two-bedroom unit, it takes up a huge amount of income," he said.
"Basically, people come to us with bills they can't pay. They're saying they've got no money for food, they can't afford food for the family, what are they going to do."
Brian Goodall, the society's Lismore Central Council president, said affordable housing was a "big issue".
"In Lismore this impacts on entrenched disadvantage, especially if they're not working," he said.
"They come to the charities for assistance because at the moment you can't live off something like Newstart Allowance and there's no improvements in the budget."
The Social Justice in the Pub forum will be held at the Rous Hotel in Keen St, Lismore, from 5.45pm on June 2.
Guest speakers will include Northern Rivers Social Development Council's Trish Evans, North Coast Community Housing's John McKenna and St Vincent de Paul Amelie Housing's Brian Murnane.
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