"Muscle Towns" rent by the room
By-the-room rentals are becoming the next crisis point in Gladstone's affordable rental shortage, says local campaigner Darlene Mackenzie.
Officially homeless, Darlene is running her Facebook site “Fight Back Gladstone Rental Crisis” from temporary digs at a friend's place.
She said the ground floor of her former home is being partitioned by the landlord to fit in another renter.
With vacancy rates just 0.6% in the last quarter, by the room rental maximises rental return but removes control over who shares the house.
Demographer Bernard Salt recently called Gladstone one of Australia's “muscle towns”. Servicing the resource and other industries, housing in muscle towns is difficult and dear.
Today's muscle towns include Gladstone, Mackay and Townsville, South Australia's Whyalla, and the west's Karratha and Port Hedland.
Ms Mackenzie is currently working extra shifts at the Young Australian Hotel to help cover the costs of becoming homeless.
“It's bad enough that we're homeless,” she said. “Between giving my friends whatever rent I can afford, hiring storage sheds and kennelling the dog, it's costing us more than what a rental house would be for my son and I under normal circumstances,” she said.
She's grateful to have a roof over her head: “I know a couple who are camping out now at Calliope River. They've both got good jobs, she's a nurse and he works for a big employer here in town but they couldn't afford to pay the rent when their lease was up,” she said.
Roseberry Community Services housing manager Karen Battams said the level of people sleeping rough in Gladstone at the moment was “unheard of”