Rob Cathcart has lived for more than six years in a converted 30-room motel.
- House prices in Echuca have risen 24% in the past year, above the national ABS average
- Rents have increased by 20%
- The University of Melbourne used the tourist town as a case study to research an affordable housing solution
Although he works full-time as a cleaner, he has been unable to secure a more suitable rental property to call home.
“Which location in Echuca-Moama?” he said.
“If something comes up, there are about 30 to 40 people applying.
While Mr. Cathcart is grateful for his home at A Room For U, he says the converted motel room isn’t a permanent solution.
“It’s a small room – the front is glass so you really have no privacy,” he said.
“You talk inside and people three doors down or in the parking lot can still hear you.”
House prices in Echuca have increased by 24%, which is slightly higher than the national average annual growth figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Rental prices have increased by 20%.
Mr. Cathcart plans to move to Pyramid Hill, where housing is more affordable, and travel to Echuca-Moama for work.
But he is worried about how the younger generation will access the market if the government does not act quickly.
Small houses needed
Sally Hillman has been running A Room For U for 12 months.
When she took over there were five rooms dedicated to long-term accommodation, but the need for accommodation began to outweigh tourist demand amid the pandemic and she converted the remaining 25 rooms. .
“There is no turning back,” she said.
“The waiting list is still half a dozen to a dozen people, it’s full.”
“If someone leaves, [the room] is pretty much full with the next three to four days.”
Ms Hillman said the demographics of residents needing a roof over their heads had changed dramatically.
“There is a family that we have taken care of who are in the process of building, but they had been looking for a rental for about four months.
“Then you have single parent families, single parents…because they only have one income, it’s even harder to be on the tenant list.”
Ms Hillman said young people without family support had also come to her.
“There are also older members of the community who have had 20-year rentals,” she said.
Search for solutions
A University of Melbourne study of housing affordability in the Murray River tourist community of Echuca-Moama surveyed the views and experiences of the community to better understand the reasons for the city’s housing crisis .
“Having partially subsidized housing would really help,” said senior honorary member Jenny Weller-Newton.
“Someone I interviewed was in his early twenties and told me he was paying $400 a week in rent for a two-and-a-half-bedroom house, which is quite expensive, and he was renting with friends… they were just scraping through.”
Dr Weller-Newton said other suggestions included a green village concept with a cluster of houses.
As part of the research, some Year 10 art students at St Joseph’s College developed 3D models of houses and city plans.
Ella Golding said the housing crisis was not something she had thought about before.
“We’re trying to make a difference about that…showing what homes might look like in the future.”
Dr Weller-Newton will present his findings at the National Rural Alliance conference in Brisbane next month.
“What we hoped to have developed through this research is a model that could be replicated in other parts of Australia,” she said.
“We hope this might give Homes Victoria some ideas on how they could come up with contemporary ideas on affordable housing.”
Job , updated