Emergency housing crisis

BENDIGO will have no emergency housing options from March.

Haven; Home Safe has been advised by the owner of the Old Crown and Rose of Australia the hotels will no longer take emergency housing clients from March.

Dower Park Recreation Reserve Caravan Park, which has long catered for people requiring emergency accommodation, will also close on March 1.

At least 30 emergency housing clients will need to find alternate accommodation before then. 

Haven acting chief executive Trudi Ray said “this is a critical situation for emergency housing options within Bendigo and we are in discussions with the Department of Human Services and other stakeholders to advocate for the position of those that are homeless or in housing crisis’’.

“We have been advised by the proprietor of the Old Crown and The Rose hotels that both venues will be vacated by clients by March 2014 and as of now will no longer accept clients of our service,’’ she said.

“We understand that the City of Greater Bendigo has some compliance concerns and would like the hotels to be classified rooming houses.

“However as we understand this is not a viable option for the owner due to the onerous nature of the regulations for rooming houses.’’

The two hotels combined offer 31 rooms for emergency accommodation, housing singles, couples and some families.

Ms Ray said the accommodation was not ideal, but “unfortunately sometimes the only option available’’.

She said 13 new clients per month required emergency accommodation and were directed to emergency housing.

 City of Greater Bendigo director of planning and development Prue Mansfield said the city was responding to new state government legislation relating to rooming houses.

The state government introduced new laws in October last year, making it the responsibility of local councils to update a statewide register of rooming houses and  ensure they complied with rooming house laws.

The register coincided with tough new minimum standards for rooming houses, which were to be enforced through inspections and fines. 

 Ms Mansfield said the two hotels required improvements in several areas, including bathrooms, door locks, fire safety and exits.

 “We have not ordered them closed, it’s up to the owner to decide what they plan to do,’’ she said.

“They have been notified what they need to do to operate safely.

“We absolutely agree about the importance of accommodation for lower income and vulnerable people in our community, but because they’re so vulnerable it’s important they are safe.

“There are concerns about what this does for accommodation for that sector of our community and we absolutely share that – it is the state government that has brought this in.’’

Comment is being sought from the owner of the hotels.

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