Preventing homelessness with private rental assistance
Private rental assistance is a critical intervention for people at risk of homelessness in an increasingly unaffordable rental market. Launch Housing’s Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) supports people who are experiencing rental stress with financial assistance to both maintain existing tenancies and to establish new ones.
In 2021 Anne, moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the city at $290 a week. Seeking treatment for cancer at the time, Anne was unable to work and needed this affordable, well positioned apartment to access care at the hospital.
But just a year later, Anne’s real estate agency advised that her landlord would be increasing her rent to $400 per week, a 38% rise. She simply couldn’t afford the hike but at the same time could not afford to move somewhere else.
“I was living paycheck to paycheck, paying for my treatments and I couldn’t afford to save up the money to pay rent up front. It’s not just rent up front, you’ve got to get bond, you have to pay for a removal man, you’ve got to pay for boxes…all these extra costs. I also had to get cleaners in and because I’m so unwell I couldn’t do it all myself.
“It was just horrendous. I was in a panic. My mental health was shot and it wasn’t good anyway. You just feel like a failure and I hate asking for help.”
Connecting with Launch Housing
Anne quickly contacted every service she could think of, and after using the help service AskIzzy, discovered Launch Housing and was connected to the PRAP team.
“They said if you find a private rental to move into we can pay the rent up front, they also said they could assist with finding a property and put me on the Housing Register.”
While Anne was searching for a new home, PRAP supported her to cover her rent. But the intensity of Melbourne’s competitive rental market still posed a significant challenge.
“I know some people were just offering more money or six months rent or 12 months rent in advance. There’s just that many people that are looking. At the same time, it makes me sick knowing there are so many properties out there that are just empty… it doesn’t make sense.”
After four challenging months, Anne found a suitable two-bedroom National Rental Affordability Scheme property which was $100 cheaper than her current apartment.
“They [PRAP] paid for my rent up front, for my removal men. I didn’t even know they would do that, it was just amazing.”
Anne says the support and care she received from PRAP was a big relief.
“You feel heard. When you’re being shut down, shut down, shut down and then you talk to someone and explain your story, and they tell you what they know and possibilities they can look into… Amazing. It made me cry. Just to be supported and helped was huge.”
The impact for Anne
Affordable and secure housing is critical for everyone but for people like Anne who are suffering significant illness, housing is an indispensable component in their healthcare.
“I was thinking if I’m homeless, how could I get treatment? How am I going to go through an operation and heal? What do you do?”
Now in her two-bedroom home, Anne has a stable base to seek treatment and recover. The extra bedroom means she can have a friend stay to support her after surgery. Anne says PRAP prevented her from losing her house and kept her out of the homelessness services system.
“When it comes down to it, [PRAP’s support] saved my life – because I wouldn’t have been able to get help.
“It’s so important to feel supported. Just to hear someone say, there is something we can do straight away takes such a weight off your shoulders.”