There’s more to homelessness than sleeping rough

CentaCare Cobar staff held a sausage sizzle and information stall outside Cobar Library last Wednesday as part of Homelessness Week. Ashley Place (and daughter Delilah) were among the locals who stopped to grab a balloon and learn about the programs in place with local CentaCare staff Elizabeth Kerr, Carol Smith and Brenda Cohen.

Cobar’s CentaCare staff have used Homelessness Week to raise local awareness of the issue which affects a number of Cobar residents.

According to statistics collected by CentaCare, more than 70 people in Cobar identified themselves as homeless last year, with CentaCare Cobar’s Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) assisting 160 people last year for homelessness (or at risk of being homeless).

Staff set up an information stand outside Cobar Library last Wednesday to let locals know that homelessness is not just about ‘sleeping rough’.

CentaCare’s Elizabeth Kerr said the SHS in Cobar is seeing many cases where people are moving ‘couch to couch’ or living in overcrowded conditions.

“In Cobar there is limited public housing, and not enough affordable rentals or smaller rental options,” she said.

“Young people especially struggle at times to find suitable affordable housing.”

She said there is also a high risk of homelessness for those in Cobar escaping domestic violence situations.

“The nearest safe house for women is located in Bourke, and the nearest male refuge is as far away as Dubbo,” Ms Kerr said.

CentaCare provides support for people looking for housing, and also assists with developing living skills, tenancy education, housing applications and bonds.

Ms Kerr said by raising awareness of the issue, CentaCare hopes locals will recognise ways to help.

“On a local level, we hope people are more accepting of young people trying to rent a home, and give them a chance,” she said.