Nada Loiterton, Ewingsdale
The Australian housing crisis, most drastically within the Byron Shire, is real. It truly exists, which would be a good reason to tackle it in a practical way now. Instead, a lot of talk about solutions happens, not the hands-on solutions in and of themselves though.
After having paid my rental dues in this area for eighteen years I am experiencing the life of a semi-nomadic car-dweller since thirty months ago, and it is not half bad. But this is not just about me.
Let’s look at what makes living in a vehicle reasonably alright: genuine friends and kind strangers offering a shower, washing machine and line, emergency overnighters (when the car has to stay at the mechanics) and even a temporary roof for the vehicle in wet weather. They are kindness incarnate and refuse offers of payment.
This is especially necessary because the representative body of our community, Byron Shire Council, does not respond in a helpful, creative way when made aware of the situation, but instead utters ‘you know that camping is illegal in the Shire?’ and similar nasties.
Be assured, we do not camp. We, tax paying, working/former working, locally shopping, caring and, yes, voting residents, live in our vehicles.
Out of the limited options we have, an impressive number of people actually made the conscious decision to live in their own home on wheels, instead of being exploited by land ‘owners’ via extortionate rents, only to be kicked out for irrational reasons after six months,
three years or any whimsical time indeed.
In a democracy I would expect a choice of lifestyle that does not harm anyone, to be respected. If it even eases a crisis situation – here: the housing crisis – one would think that a council of the people would actually want to support that choice. Not so.
What we, the car-dwelling citizens of Byron Shire, need is: washing, line-drying, showering, toilet facilities and the occasional dry spot under cover. This could be provided through a locked hub for locals only, accessed by a key card.
It would return to wheel-homies the sense of dignity and independence everyone deserves. It would be financially supported – and optionally maintained – by users who would gladly pay for the utilities, rather than continuously asking their lovely, exhausted friends.
The one organisation that came up with a concept much like, but not the same as this, and put it on their agenda, is One Roof Byron, who have been generously supported by the community.
I ask councillors to respectfully support and sponsor ‘Project Resident Wheel-Homie Hub’.