Hobart’s housing crisis continues as second tent site crops up for city’s homeless
Peter Burns (l) and Michael Prestage have been camped at the site for several weeks. (ABC News: Rhiana Whitson)
A pregnant woman has joined a growing number of homeless Tasmanians camping out in increasingly cold conditions in Hobart.
Questions are being raised over what the Tasmanian Government has done to address Hobart’s housing crisis, which has led to makeshift campsites cropping up, first at the Royal Hobart Showgrounds and now at a second site at Berriedale.
Scott Gadd, the head of the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, said a pregnant woman was among those living in a tent at the showgrounds, and that he was worried people from the Berriedale site would soon also be sent there.
Michael Prestage has been camped there at the old Berriedale caravan site for nine weeks.
“The first day of snow, we got out and it was freezing and camping here of a night, the mud is so slippery,” he said.
“It was extremely windy here last night, we lost a tent.”
The Glenorchy City Council has said the campers need to move on by Tuesday.
Mayor Kristie Johnston said the prime concern was safety for the public and those living at the site.
“It doesn’t have the amenities required for residential living,” Ms Johnston said.
“They have received help and assistance from housing service providers for a number of weeks now.”
But Mr Prestage said there was no emergency housing available for anyone in the group.
The Mayor said housing was a State Government responsibility.
Some of those camping at Berriedale have been there for nine weeks. (ABC News: Rhiana Whitson)
After an emergency housing summit in March, the Government announced 159 crisis beds would open by June, and promised $500,000 for emergency accommodation, $150,000 of which was for housing case workers.
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the Government had announced a number of measures to address housing affordability.
“Our Government is doing all we can to ensure we assist our vulnerable Tasmanians and to ensure they have a roof over their heads,” Mr Rockliff said.
In a statement, Housing Minister Roger Jaensch said emergency housing was currently being provided.
“Several properties have already been secured, and Housing Connect are continuing to secure more options as a matter of priority,” he said.
No ‘movement on the ground’ at showgrounds
Mr Gadd said he had not personally heard of anyone camped at the showgrounds getting into a hotel, or any other government-supported accommodation, since the emergency housing summit.
“We’ve got single mothers and we’ve got [a pregnant woman], we’ve got people who really need to be in more secure accommodation right now,” Mr Gadd said.
“I’m hearing a lot of rhetoric and that sounds great but we’re not actually seeing much movement on the ground, unfortunately.”
Scott Gadd says he expects the Berriedale campers will be moved to the showgrounds. (ABC News: Emily Street)
He said he was concerned those people who are moved on from Berriedale would soon arrive at the showgrounds.
“Well, where else are they going to go? It does worry us that we’re going to end up with more tents.”
Labor spokesman Josh Willie said the Government needed to provide details about how many people had actually been helped into accommodation.
“We’ve seen just thought bubbles thrown at this problem,” Mr Willie said.
“We think that the Government should be acting with more urgency, more compassionate. There is a real need here for a comprehensive plan.”
People looking for rental properties are coming and going regularly at the showgrounds. (ABC News: Ellen Coulter)