A STATE Government investment in social housing in South Kempsey has been welcomed - but it will be but a chip at the iceberg of need in the local community.
That's the view of YP Space Kempsey operations manager Michelle Ackerman on sizing the demand for assistance from young people in the town.
The service - which caters for those aged from 12 to 25 - currently receives up to 180 requests in Kempsey for help each year.
Youth-specific housing in Kempsey is for now limited to four transitional housing properties and two Youth Accord homes - making it difficult for young people to access social housing due to stock limitations.
Ms Ackerman said the face of youth homelessness in Kempsey included some who were "rough sleepers" (on the streets), though the majority were in transient accommodation arrangements - either 'couch surfing' or moving between family units with little to no stability.
An increase in the stock of social housing in Kempsey, which YP Space welcomes, would potentially help those aged 16 and above - "particularly in that 16 to 17 years group," Ms Ackerman said
The NSW Government has announced it will fund 20 new social housing homes for older people and young people at risk of homelessness in Kempsey..
Local MP Melinda Pavey said vulnerable seniors and young people in the Oxley electorate will have access to new, fit-for-purpose social housing as a result of the pledge to spend $9.6 million in funding from the sale of ageing and unfit properties in Millers Point.
Ms Ackerman told the Argus there were a number of barriers for local young people to find suitable accommodation in town.
We are committed to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and delivering better social outcomes for our most vulnerableMelinda Pavey
"Affordability is the main one. Currently the cheapest available in Kempsey is a $180-a-week bedsit, which would take up most of someone's Youth Allowance," she said.
"On Youth Allowance they get $32 a day to live on - and that has to somehow cover all the expenses of living independently."
Ms Ackerman said there was also a negative stereotype of young people as to their suitability as tenants in the private rental market.
But Mrs Pavey is nonetheless upbeat about the latest initiative.
"We are committed to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and delivering better social outcomes for our most vulnerable," she said.
"Our priority is creating more and better social housing through the Millers Point sales program. To date, we have built more than 1300 new homes."
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The MP said the funding package would not only help house some of electorate's most vulnerable, but also deliver a lifeline to the local economy.
"This investment in Kempsey and Wauchope (where 16 homes will be built) will ensure local businesses are used, creating jobs during the construction phase which will in turn deliver a vital boost to the local economy," Mrs Pavey said.
Zed (not his real name) was 16 when he first experienced homelessness because of violence at home.
Having not attended school for more than four months because he was constantly getting in trouble for his behaviour - Zed was angry all the time because of what was going on at home and didn't know how to deal with it.
Zed was too scared to tell anyone what was happening, so started using pot to stop the feelings and "just numb out"/
Zed linked with YPS Kempsey stayed in the 24/7 crisis accommodation service for a few months. There, Zed was supported to obtain a Centrelink benefit, re-engage in school, and to develop living skills and budgeting and access a psychologist to help him sort out his feelings.
YPS supported Zed to connect with an extended family member, who was willing to have the lad live with them and YPS supported the placement until Zed was settled.
Today, Zed is still in school and looking forward to completing Year 12.
Zed wants to be a mechanic when he finishes school.