Frustration rising as tent city locals wait for homes

Frustration rising as tent city locals wait for homes

17 February 2009

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Australia — Authorities are battling to find longer term temporary accommodation for the thousands of Victorians made homeless by last week’s bushfires.

An estimated 7,000 people have lost their homes and people are becoming increasingly frustrated about living in tents for nearly two weeks after the disaster.

The accommodation crisis has been described as the number one issue facing authorities at the moment.

Lynette Watson, whose home in Flowerdale was destroyed, spent 10 days sleeping in a tent set up on the football ground outside the relief centre in Yea, north-east of Melbourne.

Tent city … an estimated 7,000 people lost their homes in the fires. (AAP Image: Julian Smith)”We are treated like the worst case of charity rorters,” she said.

She currently has access to a caravan which was donated by a member of the community earlier in the week.

“We have nothing that would have given me shelter, I said to them yesterday I could have slept in that last night and had myself off the ground, off the floor, and they wouldn’t let me do it.”

The Department of Human Services is responsible for finding emergency accommodation for those made homeless by the fires.

The service had offered Ms Watson a house in Nagambie, north of Seymour, which she rejected.

“They’ve said to me, ‘There’s a house available in Nagambie, would you go to Nagambie?’ I said no, I have nothing for me in Nagambie, I’ve already lost everything, my family is in the Melbourne direction.

“They don’t care what they do with you,” she said.

Ricky Petkovski and his family of five were also offered houses which did not suit their needs.

“It’s always further out, two hours from where we originally do go to school or go to work, and my mum keeps telling them we want accommodation closer, we don’t want to travel God knows how far,” he said.

“Thank you for it all, but we want it all closer.”

Victorian housing minister Richard Wynne was unavailable for comment.

Lynn Gunter, mayor of Murrindindi Shire council, which takes in Flowerdale, Marysville and Kinglake west, said there were people who had been billeted out in houses and caravan parks. Some had gone to their own relatives.

“There’s lots of mixture of where people are finding accommodation at the moment. Even some of the relief centres, are still got a couple of people left in them.” she said.

The council is working with the communities to shift people back to their areas, where they can put up temporary villages.

Flowerdale’s temporary facility is at a recreational reserve near Spring Valley Road, where showers, toilets and cooking facilities are available.

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