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6 August, 2022

Lions one up on rental crisis

PENSIONERS are one of the hardest hit by the current rental crisis, struggling to be able to afford a rental home, and with the market not likely to ease up any time soon, the Malanda Lions are taking matters into their own hands.

By Ellie Fink

Malanda Lion Lionel Smith, Kath Scully, resident Peter Carlow, Phil Slocombe and ECHO’s Donna Cifuentes outside the Lions housing on Brown Street.

Since the 1960s, the group has constructed 16 freestanding units throughout Malanda for pensioners over the age of 65 to provide a home at an affordable price, and their latest purchase of land will accommodate another seven homes.

The block currently hosts two single-bedroom units and a double-bedroom unit and with the help of a $100,000 grant from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund, the committed community group is starting the process of building more. 

As well as receiving the grant, Tablelands Regional Council has assisted, waiving the headworks costs for the next unit, saving them up to $78,000. Malanda Lions secretary Phil Slocombe has been overseeing the expansion of their Brown Street plot alongside passionate Lion project manager Lionel Smith and both are clearly proud to be helping those in need. 

“What we have done for awhile now is provide accommodation for aged pensioners at a cheaper than commercial cost and we are current in the process of building new units on our block of land at Brown Street,” Mr Slocombe said.

“We have four units to go, and we want to help aged pensioners to find quality accommodation in their later years. 

“We are very fortunate to have received this grant of $100,000 and the support of Tablelands Regional Council and it is going to go a long way in helping us build the next unit.” 

All three of the units currently on the Brown Street block are occupied by aged pensioners, with Peter Carlow recently moving into the newly constructed two-bedroom home. 

Mr Carlow moved to the dairy town to be with his family and soon discovered how hard it was to secure a rental home, but with the help of the Malanda Lions, he was in quality accommodation in a matter of days. 

“My sister and brother-in-law were here in Malanda and I have given the Lions a hand here and there with their projects so when one of these units became available, they offered one of the single room ones to me,” he said. 

“I didn’t know they were going to build a double room (which I preferred) so I put my name into the hat and I got picked for the new double room. 

“When I got up here, I will be honest there was not much, and the Lions offered me a place that was about 40 years old. 

It was clean and had everything I needed, and I stayed there for about five years before I came to this one. 

“There’s a lot of things that you need as you get older and there is a lot of facilities that are going to be great later on.” 

The rental crisis is continuing to bring hardship to pensioners, families and young people alike, with the lack of availability and weekly rent continuing the skyrocket.

Community service group Malanda ECHO Empowering Services is now seeing more and more people who are struggling with the housing market and they try to assist where they can. 

ECHO community engagement officer Donna Cifuentes said her team has seen an increase of homelessness in the community, especially among the older demographic. 

“We look after everyone in our community including our aged pensioners and we see a lot of people through our programs that are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness,” she said. 

“There has been quite an increase especially in the last few years with Covid of people struggling with housing affordability and rental affordability. 

“We have people in our community who don’t have anywhere to live because there is nothing available or because it is too expensive. 

“We think what the Malanda Lions do to help pensioners in this situation is amazing and we wholeheartedly support them with this project.”

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