Imagine living out of your car after soaring costs forced you out of your rental home.
That is a reality for an increasing number of people as the housing affordability crisis and the rising cost of living meet head-on.
Hastings Neighbourhood Services manager Leesa-rae Harrison said more and more people unable to maintain tenancies due to escalating rent were living in their cars or sleeping rough.
Those people are turning to networks such as Hastings Neighbourhood Services for a helping hand.
Ms Harrison said they were also seeing people who had to prioritise their spending towards rent. That leaves them without enough money for food, electricity and petrol.
She said all the agencies were seeing the impact from the lack of housing stock.
There were always homeless people for lots of reasons, Ms Harrison said, but economically-based homelessness was about the property market outpricing income.
Ms Harrison said the community had to be open to providing affordable accommodation for young people on limited incomes.
"We have people who are homeless with dual incomes working in the retail industry," she said.
"You have a double income, a couple of kids, they are the ones who are really suffering through this change in the property market."
Homelessness Week, which runs until Sunday, August 7, raises awareness about the impact of not having a place to live.
Potential solutions to the homelessness problem are set to be examined at a council level.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's chief executive officer Dr Clare Allen has been asked to report to the November meeting about data on the homelessness issue in the local government area and possible solutions at a council level.
Cr Nik Lipovac, who brought the homelessness issue before the council, said the Census details would give an even greater opportunity to prepare and plan for the future.
Now was a great time, he said, to expediate drafting an affordable housing policy and action plan as part of the Local Housing Strategy to be released in September.
He said at least 300 people every night were without a home in the Hastings, according to the agencies.
Cr Lipovac spoke of options he would like to table for discussion.
He hopes the council can compile a report of vacant council-owned properties which could be converted into accommodation to house those experiencing homelessness.
Cr Lipovac also raised the possible consideration of repurposing community halls to provide short-term accommodation to people needing shelter, perhaps during floods and severe cold snaps.
He encouraged the council to initiate a pilot project, to be funded by the state and/or federal governments, to build tiny homes on council-owned land or Crown land.
"We need affordable housing options, smaller, cheaper homes, and I encourage local home builders to do what they can to assist," Cr Lipovac said.
Cr Josh Slade acknowledged the work of charities and "very forward thinking" to try to solve the problem.
He said charities were reporting this was the first time they were seeing a situation where both parents, in employment, were finding themselves homeless.
Cr Slade hopes the council can get behind the charities and is interested to see the results of the report.
Mayor Peta Pinson commended Cr Slade for his work in the tiny house space as part of the solution.
Cr Pinson said homelessness could happen to anyone at any time in their life and part of the crisis was a shortage of affordable rental stock.
Cr Sharon Griffiths said the council was trying to micro-manage the issue rather than looking at the housing strategy as a whole.
She put forward an amendment in a bid for the council to consider homelessness through the Housing Strategy, the Urban Growth Management Strategy and the Port Macquarie-Hastings Blueprint.
The amendment was unsuccessful.
Cr Rachel Sheppard said homelessness was a very different issue to the housing strategy. She saw the value in gathering data about the homelessness issue.
Although the other plans and strategies were needed, homelessness was another matter and an urgent one, Cr Lauren Edwards said.
Cr Lisa Intemann said the solutions needed to be driven by those who were homeless and their needs.
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