Up to two dozen homeless people are forced to sleep in their cars at night

HOMELESS: People forced to sleep in their cars has become a national problem. This photo was taken in Melbourne. Photo: The Age
HOMELESS: People forced to sleep in their cars has become a national problem. This photo was taken in Melbourne. Photo: The Age

Up to two dozen people are having to sleep in their cars in Orange every night as housing stress and homelessness becomes a major problem.

People are really living on a very narrow margin.

Captain David Grounds, Salvation Army

Welfare groups have revealed a grim picture of families and single people having to sleep in cars or couch surf with friends and family while seeking welfare help.

Salvation Army Captain David Grounds said they were approached by up to five people or families a week seeking housing assistance.

He said relationship break-ups, people losing their jobs and unexpected or large bills that meant people could not pay their rent, all contributed to homelessness in Orange.

“People are really living on a very narrow margin. There are a lot of people behind on the rent,” he said.

“I’d estimate that a dozen or a couple of dozen people are sleeping in their cars in Orange every night.”

The St Vincent de Paul society said 875,000 households in Australia were experiencing housing stress with many paying up to 70 per cent of their income on rent.

Chief executive officer Jack de Groot said 60,000 people were on the social housing waiting list in NSW.

“Vinnies wants to see at least 15 per cent of new residential developments across the state set aside for affordable housing, where rent is kept below 30 per cent of income,” he said.

The group’s regional president covering Orange, Cowra and Blayney, Michael Horth said they had received 827 requests for financial, housing and food help in the past three months – with about 70 per cent from people in Orange

“This is a very serious problem,” he said.

Mr Horth said most had visited the service twice and 109 were homeless or in temporary accommodation.

“A lot of those are couch surfing. It is not a very nice way to live,” he said.

“We’ve had people sleeping in their cars but not often.”

Housing Plus director of strategy and business development Justin Cantelo said they had about 900 affordable and social housing properties in the Central West.

But he said there was a 5-10 year wait for this housing in Orange.

“Supply is not meeting the demand,” he said.

The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Doorknock is on May 27-28.