Critical Bega Valley charities raise funds for purchase of unit to assist in housing crisis

Almost $80,000 has been raised towards the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast campaign It's Up To Us, to raise urgent funds to tackle homeless in the Bega Valley.

The Sleep On It committee, raising money towards the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast campaign It's Up To Us, has managed to already raise $17,000 towards their $25,000 goal despite the event postponement. Photo: Social Justice Advocates Of The Sapphire Coast

The Sleep On It committee, raising money towards the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast campaign It's Up To Us, has managed to already raise $17,000 towards their $25,000 goal despite the event postponement. Photo: Social Justice Advocates Of The Sapphire Coast

Despite one of their key campaign events, Sleep On It Challenge, having to be postponed from October 22 until March or April 2022, the Sleep On It committee were happy to announce on Wednesday October 13, that 68 percent of their goal had already been raised.

The event committee, made up of SJA, along with SEAWACS, Mission Australia, St Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Headspace Bega and the Sapphire Community Pantry have already raised $17,000 towards their $25,000 goal.

Kylie Furnell who works with SEWACS homeless youth department said the money was raised by various people across their social networks who pledged to do the challenge.

"We've had to postpone, but that just means there will be further opportunity to get more sponsorship for the event sometime next year."

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Michael Brosnan from SJA said the money raised by the Sleep On It Challenge, as well as money from the sale of a smaller unit in a caravan park and donations have equated around $150,000.

He said the money would be allocated to the purchase of a two-bedroom unit in Merimbula early next year.

Michael Brosnan from the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast. Photo: Bega District News archives.

Michael Brosnan from the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast. Photo: Bega District News archives.

"What we're looking for now is to get a really old, run down two-bedroom unit in a small block of units or something like that that we can renovate and use to house people for a few months," said Mr Brosnan.

The unit would then be renovated with the help of a local builder who has offered to donate his time to work on the property.

The money raised would go completely into the sale of the unit and Mr Brosnan said, "we will beg, borrow, and steal in order to renovate the unit."

At present, SJA provide a number of caravans that have been donated and refurbished by one of their volunteers, including ten crisis caravans on private properties or caravan parks around the Valley.

"We don't think they're suitable for longer periods of time because they're just crisis vans, they're not the answer- we know that," said Mr Brosnan.

"A family could be allocated that unit and the beauty of a unit is that they can stay there longer and take a deeper breath if you like, and maybe three or four months down the track we would start to say 'look we've got to keep moving'."

He said the family or individual would then be assisted by SEAWACS or Mission Australia to find more permanent accommodation.

The bigger problem though is that at the moment accommodation, "just doesn't exist."

"With the price of renting, the shortage of housing stock, and the rise in Airbnbs, the situation is not the same as before, it's far worse," said Mr Brosnan.

"Everything is leaning against the people who need accommodation most, it really is going backwards."

The challenges remain, but Mr Brosnan said the unit would ultimately be, "a far more dignified temporary accommodation option," until something more permanent could be arranged for the person or people struggling with housing.

This story Critical Bega Valley charities raise funds for purchase of unit to assist in housing crisis first appeared on Bega District News.