Rental shortage hits home for Forbes mum, CatholicCare says she's one of hundreds

For more than six weeks now Stacey Floyd has been staying in a cabin with her four children, desperately seeking a rental property in our area.

She's grateful for a roof over her head and a place to prepare meals, but she's shared her story with the Advocate because she'd love to get her kids settled in to a home where they've got more space to play and run.

She's not alone: CatholicCare's homelessness services says the current rental situation in Forbes as well as Parkes and our region is critical.

Andrew Bament, team leader for CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes specialist homelessness services, says his team has assisted 672 in the last financial year across Forbes, Parkes, Cowra, Weddin and Lachlan shires.

A total 160 of those were in Forbes, 261 in Parkes. They've provided 2239 nights of accommodation.

There's been a further 207 enquiries from outside the region.

Mr Bament describes the availability of affordable rental properties in our area as "horrendous".

CatholicCare has a team of 10 staff in their homelessness services team, and they "really have to think outside the box to get people accommodation," Mr Bament says.

"We have clients with good rental references and good rental history and we just can't get a property," he said.

Mr Bament is quick to add he's not pointing the finger at anyone for the crisis: everyone in sector in the region is doing their best to connect their clients to housing, he says.

So what's caused this issue? It's not really new, CatholicCare has helped some 600 people a year in the region before.

And this isn't the only region experiencing a shortage: Mr Bament says it's not unusual for people to try to come to our area thinking it will be easier to get a home here than other places.

"There are lots of factors contributing (to the problem)," Mr Bament said. "Everything has conspired at the same time."

Stacey Floyd is grateful to have the one-bedroom cabin she and her four children currently call home, but she's searching for somewhere with more space for them to run and play.

Stacey Floyd is grateful to have the one-bedroom cabin she and her four children currently call home, but she's searching for somewhere with more space for them to run and play.

Stacey actually arrived in Forbes thinking she had a property to look at for her family, she was given an address and went for an initial look at the property.

It wasn't until she started trying to firm up arrangements to make payment and collect keys that she realised she was being scammed.

Stacey has been to real estate agents and made repeated appeals to the private rental market.

"I have got a (CatholicCare) worker and she is brilliant," Stacey said. "I know I'm not the only one in this position, there are many struggling families that need a home."

For now she and her four children, aged nine and under, call a one-bedroom cabin home.

It's safe and clean, provides them with a place to sleep and cook: the first thing she did once those first nights in the cabin were funded through Link2Home were to get groceries and cook proper meals.

But the two-week school holidays, with all the wet weather we had, were particularly difficult.

She'd be very happy to live out of town on a property or similar, she just wants to be able to keep her children at the same school.

"It's stressful on them to move," Stacey said.

She too has friends and a support network here.

While Stacey's story is common, CatholicCare actually sees the biggest need in younger people without a rental history.

One of the measures they have taken to help is to lease a couple of properties in Parkes to rent to younger people for six months, and then provide them with rental references.

In crisis, they have a five-bedroom refuge for women and children which is predominantly for those in domestic violence situations.

They also connect people to Link2Home which provides 28 nights of accommodation (a year) with the aim of transitioning people to a longer-term solution in that time.