Ministers Plead For Holiday Home Owners To 'Help A Neighbour' In Bushfire Crisis
Residents who own holiday homes in bushfire-ravaged areas of NSW are being urged to open up their properties to neighbours who have lost everything in blazes that have torn through the state.
The NSW government is promising financial aid for people who choose to provide free housing for others impacted by the blazes, through rental bond loans and advance rent payments.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, said the government is encouraging homeowners to "lend a helping hand" to assist with finding people suitable accommodation by listing their available properties for rent via their local agent.
"If you own a property in a bushfire-affected area that isn’t being used right now, it could be providing a family with a safe and secure place to stay in their time of need,” the Kiama MP said.
"So many people have asked me 'how can I help', this is one way you can help," Ward said.
"If you've got a property that is available for a family who really needs it, call your local real estate agent."
His plea is being echoed by Transport Minister Andrew Constance whose own electorate of Bega has been devastated by fires over the last month.
In a joint message shared on social media, Constance and Ward said by listing available properties for rent, the government can begin to link those homes with people who have lost their own.
"It provides a homeless family with a roof over their heads for the next few months as they get sorted and are able to rebuild on their block," Constance said.
"We've seen such devastation from these fires and we have literally hundreds of displaced people and we need to find them longer-term accommodation."
He said the south coast, which has been hardest hit by the fires over the last month, was filled with available homes owned by people living and working in bigger cities, including Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne.
"Tragically, we’ve lost hundreds of homes across our region. They are sleeping in hotels, motels, with family and friends, in tents, caravans, and sheds. It’s a crisis as they plan for their futures,” Constance said.
The government said its Bushfire Housing Assistance service has also received hundreds of calls from people impacted by the blazes.
People who are in need of housing assistance as a result of the bushfires can call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 or visit a local Department of Communities and Justice Housing office.