17.6 C
Byron Shire
June 30, 2022

Home is where the poverty is

Latest News

Flood-prone land in Murwillumbah swapped for flood-free land 

It has been five years in the making but the innovative land swap of flood-prone land for flood-free land in Murwillumbah is underway with a second round of ‘expressions of interest’ about to open. 

Other News

Get booked, from July 1

The annual Byron Shire Book Fair is finally going ahead from Friday July 1 to Sunday July 3 from 9am to 4pm at the Byron Bay Surf Club.

Palestine’s ‘terra nullius’ and children’s body armour

Firstly, the Zionist regime of Israel is an apartheid regime. It is based on the dispossession, expropriation, expulsion and...

No blame in this game

I do not wish to condemn politicians for the state of corruption in this country. However, I do wish...

Diner Lennox – true hospitality

The Diner Lennox is a true community-based restaurant run by a couple of guys who love hospitality, and get...

Cabarita Surf Club gets $500k funding boost

Cabarita Beach Surf Life Saving Club has secured a $500,000 grant in the NSW Government’s 2021/22 Surf Club Facility Program.

Concerns raised over heritage demolition proposal in Byron

The Byron Bay Historical Society has supported concerns raised by residents around a DA that proposes to demolish a home listed in a heritage area.

Being homeless can be dangerous on the streets of Byron.

Eve Jeffery

Is it a coincidence that national Anti-Poverty Week starts on the calendar the week right where Responsible Gambling Awareness Week finished off? Or that the week where we look at homelessness also falls the week after Mental Health Week?

One would have to say that two of the main contributing factors to homelessness are gambling and mental health.

Nothing makes poverty and homelessness more poignantly apparent than six days of solid rain. There’s nothing quite so sad as a homeless person bedraggled and wet.

It’s becoming far too common. I saw it today on my way into work – a man huddled on a step with a blanket around him, right in the centre of Mullumbimby.

Why? Who can afford to live in Mullum? I can’t. I can’t afford to live in Mullum or Byron or even far-flung New Brighton. If your income is marginal and, or if you are having other issues in your life, like mental health problems, chances are you won’t be able to live in the Byron Shire. Or not for long – not in a house anyway.

A few years ago I was living pretty much four weeks from homelessness at any given time. If I had broken my leg and was out of work, I would have been stuffed.

Then, my landlord put my rent up from $540 to $590 a week. I’d lived in the house for almost 12 years and I was a good tenant but he could get a higher rent, so he did.

I got to the point where I just had enough and had to leave the area. I was struggling each week to pay rent, let alone bills and necessities. I left friends, family and work opportunities behind.

Homelessness is a massive problem in hippy heaven. Pull your head out of your butt and look around.

And you know what? Airbnb is not the only problem. Every house I have lived in for the past 20 years in the Byron Shire has been someone’s second house. Or third or fourth. How do these people get all the houses? Chance are some schmuck like me paid the mortgage.

The north coast’s lack of affordable rental accommodation is a key driver of household poverty and homelessness, and the situation is unlikely to improve until more housing is available for people on lower incomes.

St Vincent de Paul Society’s north coast executive officer Michael Timbrell says Anti-Poverty Week is a time to reflect on some of the greatest challenges facing society.

‘On the north coast, every local government area (LGA) has a child poverty rate of about 20 per cent, with a total of more than 80,000 people experiencing poverty, and a further 38,500 being at risk of it,’ he said. ‘Rental affordability is a chronic problem, leaving many people homeless or on the verge of homelessness, struggling to support their families. The recent Affordable Housing Income Gap report produced by Compass Housing Services showed that five of the six most unaffordable LGAs for rentals in regional NSW are in the north coast.’

The least affordable area was Byron Shire, where median rent was $590 per week – my ex-landlord was spot on. ‘The weekly household income required to cover this rent without experiencing housing stress – defined as more than one-third of household income – was $1,967, whereas actual median income was only $1,218. This means 48 per cent of income is needed to cover the median rent.

The other north coast LGAs facing rental stress were Ballina, Clarence Valley, Tweed Shire, Coffs Harbour, and Port Macquarie.

‘This means a high number of renters are facing housing insecurity, even homelessness, and rely on modest incomes or government support to cover basics such as food, school costs and high power bills,’ said Mr Timbrell.

‘St Vincent de Paul Society support centres see many people who are at risk of falling through the net. We do our best to help but rent takes a large slice of their budget, and without a secure home many households, often with young children, are extremely vulnerable.

‘In this Anti-Poverty Week we join with like-minded organisations to advocate for concrete measures by government, including a national housing strategy, the urgent construction of more social and affordable housing, and tax reforms in the housing market.’

What can you do? How many houses do you actually need? And of those houses, how much rent do you actually need? Is your mental health issue greed?

You’d better go see someone about that.

St Vincent de Paul Society is a Principal National Sponsor of Anti-Poverty Week, 14-20 October 2018. Visit www.antipovertyweek.org.au for more information.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Well done Eve great exposure and info it’s all there. The idealic shire not! I spent maneuvers moving around from centre of Mullum, six months in the middle pub, to house sitting in all the suburbs and flats in far flung south golden beach and rooms rented in someone’s house. For the young it’s desperate and it’s true those who can’t afford have to leave. I am shocked at the greed in the shire, hate air bnb and done up garages. Worst is like your landlord pumping up rents and driving you out. There are many social problems but psychological having to move when you.dont want to often living with kind of dirty secret of hidden homelessness ‘ just between home’s. Or anxiety it’s not long term. Greed over caring for community shameful.Jane FLOWER. Brisbane


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

First Nations place-names under Ballina council spotlight

Greater efforts at reconciliation with First Nations people in the Ballina Shire when it comes to place-names is to happen after furious agreement at June’s council meeting.

Police seeking public assistance following Byron Bay assault

A serious assault in Byron Bay on Friday, 3 June, 2022 has led to police releasing further CCTV footage and another appeal for information from the public. 

Festival/Byron Council relations strained, motion passes

The operations manager of the Byron Music Festival says her attempts to run the event this year were cruelled by Byron Council staff, who allegedly provided organisers with false information and spoke to them like they were ‘idiots’.

Govt considers underwriting small energy retailers after Enova’s collapse

In the wake of the collapse of local green energy retailer, Enova, the NSW government say they are considering underwriting small energy retailers who face unfair market competition from large retailers who also generate electricity.