HOUSING support services in Bathurst have had to resort to handing out sleeping bags and tents as the rental crisis in Bathurst deepens.
Kristy Benham, manager of Wattle Tree House, which assists both the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, said demand on their services is steadily increasing.
She said at the moment it is a real struggle.
"Obviously there is just no rental accommodation available.
"The rental market is really tight, and for a lot of our clients the rental market is unaffordable.
"The way rental prices have gone up, they can't afford it."
And as a service provider in the current situation, she said Wattle Tree House is quite limited in how it can help.
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"All our crisis units and transitional houses are full, there are wait lists. It really is a case by case situation," she said.
"People have access to temporary accommodation through the Link to Home program.
"The program provides them with 28 days accommodation (in motels / hotels) but after that they are basically back in the same situation unless they have family or friends they are able to stay with," she said.
The other issue is motel availability.
"On weekends because Bathurst is such a big sporting town, a lot of times you simply can't book a motel because people come from all over."
She said staff at Wattle Tree do their best to help clients find permanent accommodation, but again it's hard.
"We do our best to help them apply for housing properties, but it's still a very long wait. Once they are on priority, they could still be looking at a couple of years waiting time before they are even offered something.
"It's really difficult, we support them as best we can.
"There are some share houses around that we can utilise but mostly they are pretty well full as well," she said.
She said they are handing out sleeping bags, which people are taking to sleep in their car, which she said, if nothing else affords them some type of protection.
"We do have a small supply of the back pack beds and have been handing them out.
"We've been supplying sleeping bags, swags and tents to people so they do have some kind of protection from the elements."
She said clients are so desperate they have had no option but to take a tent, adding there is no easy solution to the problem.
"It is really difficult, people are struggling."
The Orange market is also experiencing similar.
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