Fires, abuse, toileting in buckets as homeless take up lodging with strangers

Homeless Tasmanians have been taking up offers of shelter from strangers, or inappropriate friends and family, and this has created dangerous situations for both parties.

That’s according to social housing providers Centrecare Evolve and CatholicCare, who said they have seen all sorts of flow-in effects from the rental market’s 60 per cent decrease in listings since 2013.

In a joint submission to the Select Committee on Housing Affordability, the service providers said there had been an increase in people offering rooms, sheds, and caravans to homeless people who had no other options, including via social media.

They said their staff had reported incidences of:

  • Home, garage and shed fires
  • Damage to property
  • Criminal activity (theft and assault)
  • Elder abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Emergence of swap of ‘goods’ for beds
  • Financial gain or manipulation
  • Substandard living conditions including toileting in buckets

There are more than 3,300 households on the public housing waiting list, and organisations like CatholicCare and Centrecare Evolve are turning away 28 people a day in Tasmania due to lack of resources.

“CatholicCare has some concerns that without some action to manage the vast number of ideas and offers of donations and activities that there is a risk to community members and those who are most vulnerable,” the submission said.

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