By Jessica Appleton

    I am just one of many people who have been struggling with paying rent weekly while on Centrelink.

    It all started when I found a great place that was affordable for myself, my partner and my brother. Then one day out of the blue, my partner ups and leaves, and I am left to pay a fortnightly payment of $540 – I don’t even get that much! My brother’s trying to go on Centrelink and for some reason he keeps getting denied. We are behind in our rent by almost a month, it sometimes feels like no matter what I do I am just stuck in a bad situation with no help out there.

    Do you think Centrelink should be giving its recipients more money for housing alone?

    I am sick and tired of being judged by other people’s mistakes, I for one know many people who actually job search everyday – they go to their work for the dole activities without fail. Do you not think those people should be given a bit more help? The sad thing is that nobody but ourselves and our work for the dole co-workers actually know how hard it is and how much effort we put into looking for work, and trying to survive on the little amount we are given.

    If you are approved, there is also the added issue of having to move out of an area where you feel comfortable and happy. I have spoken to a few people who are also having problems with housing and finding a place they can afford while on Centrelink. They have said it can take months to finally find a house, then what happens when you get approved? You have to provide pay-slips which you may not have.

    How long is it going to take for you to be able to get rent assistance? I have found a list of reasons you may be eligible for rent assistance (or not) – here are two for each group.

    Two main reasons you could be eligible for rent assistance:

    • Rent other than to a state or territory housing Authority
    • Fees paid to use a caravan site or other housing that you occupy as your main home.

    Two main reasons you could be ineligible for rent assistance:

    • If you occupy an Australian Government subsidised bed in an approved residential aged care facility.
    • If you are a home owner travelling away from your place of residence for less than 12 months.

    To see if you are eligible for rent assistance, go to the Centrelink website.

    So where does one go after all this has happened? I know from my own experience its hard to comprehend what is happening, you’re asking yourself “why me, what did I ever do?” and chances are you didn’t do anything at all, you were just given the short straw. Well we need to pick ourselves up, pull ourselves together and do what needs to be done. We are going to ring companies that specialise in this area (trying to find a house) maybe even ask some of your friends if they would be willing to go and apply for a house with you and move in, if this happens it can ‘up’ your chances of getting the place because the more people who have an income, no matter what type is best for you.

    My plan of attack is to get my brother on benefits ASAP, then speak to my real estate agent and explain what is going on and what I am going to do to fix it. I will then need to get into a payment plan, which means paying whatever amount weekly and adding a little bit more on to the amount so I can pay off what is owing to the satisfaction of the agent.

    When trying to get a house while on Centrelink, you need to show the owner/real estate agent that you are not like others who may have screwed them over. You need to prove you’re different and you go as far as outlining how you are going to afford the amount of rent you have agreed on, and how every week or month you will pay on time.

    When I needed help, I asked everyone I knew and when they couldn’t help I had to turn to community organisations. I rang up several community centres but the one that helped me the most was Yarra Community Housing; they put me in contact with a company call Latitude and they were absolutely amazing and so understanding. I couldn’t have asked for more. Yarra Community Housing have four sites in the western area, I have listed them below.

    • 112 – 122 Victoria S, Seddon, 9689 2777
    • 660 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 93490250
    • 297/301 Napier Street, Fitzroy, 94190009
    • 1 Watton Street, Werribee, 87442100
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