Castlemaine homelessness service eyes tiny homes

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: It may still be early days but a Castlemaine housing service is considering tiny homes for its clients amid concerns about affordability issues. Picture: FRED'S TINY HOUSES
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: It may still be early days but a Castlemaine housing service is considering tiny homes for its clients amid concerns about affordability issues. Picture: FRED'S TINY HOUSES

Amid concerns about housing affordability a Castlemaine service is considering tiny homes for those at risk of homelessness.

Last week peak state body the Council to Homelessness Persons described a “housing crisis” that was driving increased rates of homelessness as low income renters were pushed out of the market.

Castlemaine District Community Health’s Michael McMahon said while some of the biggest drivers of homelessness included drug and alcohol use or domestic violence, unaffordable housing was a factor.

Mr McMahon was team leader in CDCH’s Castlemaine Housing Service, which had begun exploring the possibility of tiny homes as one option for tackling to homelessness.

“We are exploring tiny houses as potential emergency accommodation, transitional housing or for long term use,” he said.

While it was still early days the group was in discussions with Castlemaine tiny house builder Fred Schultz about possible options.

Mr McMahon said if three or four tiny houses where available there would be plenty of interested clients.

Before a plan could be put into action the service faced a number of potential stumbling blocks. One would be determining the location for houses.

One possible option was placing them at least temporarily on public land, though that would be dependent on local councils’ OK.

Another potential problem was local laws about camping on private property. In the Mount Alexander Shire people needed a permit after six weeks of occupancy.

That could create challenges for those moving into tiny homes at the back of other people’s properties.

The tiny house movement had been steadily growing in central Victoria, with the emergence of businesses catering largely to those hoping to build their own homes.

Tiny homes were often small enough to fit on the back of a trailer.

Self-builders could spend between $10,000 to $50,000, or up to 80,000 for those made by a professional builder, according to Tiny Houses Australia’s Darren Hughes.

Tiny Houses Bendigo Facebook administrator Ben Shue told the Bendigo Advertiser in June that tiny houses’ affordability could allow many to buy into the housing market.

“I suppose when you look at all the stats around housing affordability, real estate agents will say Bendigo is more affordable than Melbourne. But incomes are less here,” he said.

“Housing prices are tough on students pursuing further study, tough on single parents, to name a few. This is a way to find a home that is safe and secure.”