‘Your heart breaks’: Murray Bridge conveyancers raise thousands for homelessness service
Mel Wilson and Trish Connolly work with some of the people hardest-hit by the Murraylands’ housing crisis and want to help find a solution.
This post about a community cause is free to read. Please help Murray Bridge News tell more local stories by subscribing.
Business has been good for some in the Murraylands’ property industry over the past couple of years, despite the effects of COVID-19 and a local housing shortage.
Conveyancers Mel Wilson and Trish Connolly say they’ve been as busy as ever – and they’ve had mixed feelings about that.
“We’re seeing more clients in distress, especially in the last six to 12 months: more people than ever before living in caravans, waiting for properties to settle,” Ms Wilson said.
“One woman was sleeping in a swag for a couple of weeks because she’d been in a rental property that had been sold and was waiting for funds to come in to buy a very, very cheap property.
“Your heart breaks for people.”
They couldn’t fix the problem, the businesswomen realised, but they could still make a helpful contribution.
Since January they have donated $10 from every settlement they’ve transacted to Catherine House, an Adelaide-based charity which provides support and accommodation to homeless women.
So far they have raised about $3000.
Spokeswoman Jaylee Cooper said the funds would help Catherine House provide a crisis accommodation service which provided shelter, meals and professional support to up to 59 women at a time.
Providing those services cost the organisation $144 per woman, per night, she said, so it was terrific that Connolly Wilson Conveyancing could help.
“We’re having women phone us who are going to over 100 inspections a month,” she said.
“It’s becoming harder and harder.
“People are offering to pay (landlords) six months or 12 months’ rent in advance, or pay $100 a week over what’s advertised, and underprivileged women are getting priced out of the market.”
Home buyers aren’t all well off, conveyancer says
The idea that all home buyers were well-off was “such a myth”, Ms Wilson said.
A number of her clients had been unable to find a rental, and had been forced to empty out their savings or sell assets in order to buy locally instead.
Others had downsized due in response to financial hardship.
Throw in the cost of stamp duty – often more than $20,000 – and it was not so easy to argue that mortgage repayments were cheaper than renting.
Factors such as mental health, domestic violence and divorce all put people, and especially women, at risk of homelessness, Ms Wilson said.
“As women who’ve both been independent single mums … we just realise how easily people can end up in a different position through just a change in their luck, and how disenfranchising it can be,” she said.
“People who don’t present well on paper, and probably in person, still deserve a safe, affordable place to live.”
Get help: Contact the Homelessness Gateway on 1800 003 308; contact Catherine House at www.catherinehouse.org.au/help, on 8232 2282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit AC Care at 29 Bridge Street, Murray Bridge or www.accare.org.au.
Donate to Catherine House: catherinehouse.org.au/donations.
You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, from just $5 a month.