Homelessness service struggles with ‘unprecedented’ demand
AC Care’s Murraylands homelessness service is calling for donations to help it provide hundreds of local people with food and shelter.
Trish Spark has spent the past 11 years working to alleviate homelessness in the Murraylands.
She’s never seen things as bad as they are now.
AC Care’s Murraylands Homelessness Service is currently working with 144 people who are at risk of imminent homelessness due to a shortage of affordable housing – or any housing, for that matter.
The agency has helped 400 people across the Murraylands, Riverland and Limestone Coast over the past seven months – as many as it usually would in a year.
Staff members who were recruited to work with about 15 people each are instead dealing with 40 at a time.
They help clients find stable accommodation whenever they can.
When they can’t do that, they gave out tents, swags, shopping vouchers and hampers full of non-perishable food.
Without additional funding, Ms Spark said, AC Care would not be able to provide the level of support people needed to have safe homes and enough money to live on.
“The demand for support and strain on our resources is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” she said.
She called on businesses and individuals to do what they could to help.
“Just $30 can provide a food hamper for an individual, or $50 for a family to have enough to eat for a few days, and donations of $200 are enough for a swag,” she said.
“We are encouraging people to donate financially so we can best direct the funds we raise to the greatest needs in our community.
“(We) would love to see people move from one-off to ongoing donations, which can be done easily via our website, so we can scale up our impact and develop sustainable fundraising to support our communities.”
Young tenants of Studio Purpose project need help, too
As well as raising money for the general homelessness service, Ms Spark said $50,000 was needed to keep the Studio Purpose project running.
The project – a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other organisations – provides a home and support for four vulnerable young people who would otherwise have nowhere to go.
An old SA Housing Authority duplex in Murray Bridge was renovated for the purpose and opened in 2021.
Instead of just putting a roof over their heads, though, the project connects participating young people with health, education and other services so they can become independent, recognise their own worth and build hope for the future.
Ms Spark blamed a shortage of housing, rising living costs and the River Murray floods for the demand placed upon AC Care’s services.
Donate: Visit www.accare.org.au/donate or call 1300 AC CARE (222 273).
Get help: Contact AC Care at 29 Bridge Street, Murray Bridge on 8531 4900 during business hours or call the Homelessness Gateway on 1800 003 308.
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