RACHAEL Carr has been through stress no 17-year-old should have to endure: Worrying about keeping a roof over her head.
Approaching 18 two years ago, Miss Carr was about to reach the age limit for foster care, but finding housing she could afford was harder than she expected.
“Anglicare had to show me homeless shelters,” she said.
“I literally went searching for three months, every Friday and it came down to my last option.”
The now 19-year-old was lucky to secure an apartment three days before her 18th birthday, but her apartment building is in poor condition with difficult neighbours and she does not feel safe.
“It’s hell – I can’t even wash my clothes without feeling there’s someone going to attack me,” she said.
She currently pays $150 a week, but said to pay $175 and secure a better property would leave her short on money for food and bills.
She planned to pursue retail training to secure a job to improve her financial situation so she could study to be a youth worker.
Miss Carr’s difficulties are not isolated.
Anglicare’s latest analysis of affordable housing in Orange has revealed no improvement since last year.
Number of houses available for people on government support:
The ninth annual Rental Affordability Snapshot was conducted on March 24, with none of the 138 properties available manageable for single parents, or people on Newstart or youth allowance, even share houses.
The number of affordable properties improved slightly for couples and singles on the age pension, as well as singles on minimum wage, but dropped significantly for couples on the minimum wage with two children.
Anglicare regional manager Luke Adamson said the ongoing situation was cause for concern.
“This situation is dire and frankly, housing is [the foundation] for quality of life,” he said.
“Without it, people will struggle to focus on education, find employment and establish healthy relationships.”
Number of houses available for households on the minimum wage:
Mr Adamson said there were many others like Miss Carr exiting foster care.
“The stress and anxiety of moving out of care at 18 years of age and suddenly being required to fend for themselves is hugely compounded by a lack of safe and affordable housing in this region,” he said.
With waiting lists for government housing at 10 years, Miss Carr said more investment in affordable housing was needed.