A former member of the historic Regional Housing Council has attributed a tight rental market in Castlemaine to a decline in public and social housing available.
Former City of Castlemaine councillor Peter Shaw said there had been a "systemic issue with a lack of investment in public housing" over the past 20 years.
Mount Alexander is one of the most affordable regional or rural local government areas for households living on income support payments or pensions.
Read more: Little for renters in Castlemaine market
But available rentals can be hard to find in Castlemaine itself. In January the vacancy rate was less than one percent.
Realestate.com.au lists 21 homes for rent in the Castlemaine region, 10 of which are in the town itself. The cheapest of these is a two bedroom home costing $250 per week.
Mr Shaw said the rental market in Castlemaine had "fallen apart" recently.
He described Castlemaine's housing situation as "the perfect storm", with a growing economy and people moving to the town putting even more pressure on the market.
The problem needed local, state and federal government to work together, he said.
Mr Shaw said the steady decline in public housing was an ongoing issue.
"It flows right through the economy. If you don't have a roof over your head you can't operate properly in a society," Mr Shaw said.
"Public housing, you need a lot of investment. Big chunks of public housing were built in the '50s and '60s. And we simply haven't continued that investment.
"It's okay to let it go for one year, but you let it go for 20 years, it gets to the point where it falls apart."
Director of Mount Alexander-based Waller Realty Narelle Waller said there was more rental stock available in town than there had been in some time, but it was a tough market for low-income renters to enter.
She said the lifestyle Castlemaine offers - on the train line, with a sustainability and an artesian movement - was drawing people to relocate, often from Melbourne.
Compared to what metropolitan renters pay, Castlemaine was "exceptionally" affordable, Ms Waller said.
It would be tough for single parent families, or people receiving Newstart, to find a house in Castlemaine, but they would struggle anywhere in the region, Ms Waller said.
"The cheapest rental that's probably in Castlemaine that is advertised, and that's not with our agency, that's $250 a week," Ms Waller said.
"We certainly understand that it is a tough market for people coming in, however we also have an obligation our landlords to give them market rent as well.
"It's very hard to find a property which is a three bedroom property under $300 a week."
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