Ailsa Murray and partner Lewis Boyd with children Lakeisha, 8 months, Harmony ,6, Cameron ,5, Lewis ,4, Kyileasha , 2, at the home in Lismore .
Ailsa Murray and partner Lewis Boyd with children Lakeisha, 8 months, Harmony ,6, Cameron ,5, Lewis ,4, Kyileasha , 2, at the home in Lismore . Marc Stapelberg

Housing at crisis point for Northern Rivers families

A CRISIS of housing availability on the Northern Rivers has left emergency accommodation stretched beyond its intended use and one family on the precipice of homelessness.

Ailsa Murray and Lewis Boyd and their children Harmony, Cameron, Lewis, Kyileasha and eight-month-old Lakeisha have been living in housing operated by On Track Community Programs - under the umbrella of Third Sector Australia - for about two years.

But with that "transitional" home designated to those in need of emergency housing, the family is required to find a more permanent home.

That, Ms Murray said, had proved impossible.

They moved from Casino and secured this home through OTCP so they could be close to Lismore Base Hospital while her husband underwent treatment for a heart condition.

She said they were on a waiting list for a Department of Family and Community Services home, but they have no idea how long they could wait for this.

Ms Murray said they were repeatedly rejected by real estate agents and an initial ray of hope through the Aboriginal Housing Office fell through.

"We've been here for two years but we've been looking for a home that's suitable for us," she said.

Ms Murray said she was told they would be removed from the home on Monday and feared they could wind up bouncing between crisis accommodation, with nowhere to call home.

But Third Sector Australia CEO Karen Murphy said the family wouldn't be left out on the street.

She said transitional housing was "not suitable or intended for long term family accommodation" and was a "stop-gap" measure for those in urgent need.

"We have given the family an extended period of notice to seek a permanent housing solution, so that we are able to provide emergency accommodation to others in urgent need," she said.

Ms Murphy said they would continue to work with other organisations and government agencies to support the family.

But she called on the Federal Government to mend a broken housing system.

"The acute shortage of affordable housing is a national problem, leaving thousands of people either unable to access appropriate housing or in rental stress," she said.

"We believe the housing crisis requires a national housing strategy, sustained investment in affordable housing, including subsidised rental housing, and a review of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to ensure it meets growing need."

Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George said the organisations dealing with the family would ensure they were "not going to be put out on the street".

"Everyone that's involved will continue to work with them to find this family appropriate accommodation," Mr George said.

  • Emergency homelessness support is available through Link to Home on 1800152152.


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