“We’re encouraging home owners to lend a helping hand and list their property for rent, so that the NSW government can assist people into secure accommodation.
“There’s something in this for everybody.”
The scheme will provide assistance with rental bonds and advanced rental costs, as well as helping people who have been displaced from their homes get in touch with people who have room to spare.
“We have one plea today, and that is to those who have coast homes in our region: please contact local real estate agents,” Mr Constance said.
“If you can, make your coast home, your recreation home available to local people who will be able to be housed there over the short and medium term while people rebuild. It provides a homeless family with a roof over their head for the next few months as they get sorted and are able to rebuild on their blocks.”
Mr Constance, who has been aiding recovery efforts in his electorate for the entire summer, said the need for more accommodation went beyond the current crisis accommodation provided.
“We’ve got people living in caravan parks, hotel rooms, with neighbours, with friends, in sheds. We’ve got to get people placed.”
PhD student and writer Erin Riley was frustrated that many people had been left homeless and with no one to turn to. Two weeks ago, she created Find A Bed, a social network for people with spare beds to house those who had lost everything.
She offered her own property for temporary residence after the New Year’s Eve bushfires and when it quickly went viral on social media, she decided to streamline the service.
“The whole thing has been completely mindblowing,” she told the Herald.
“The scale is extraordinary. I remember being excited when we got to 50 people offering houses, now we’re at over 8500. It’s such a privilege to be able to provide help to people.”
So far, the service has placed over 100 families and offered “everything from a place to a cup of tea and a shower to a place to stay.”
A team of over 50 volunteers have jumped on board to help facilitate requests and Find A Bed is now in the process of formally registering as a non-profit organisation.
Offers of places to stay have flowed in from across Australia and the world.
“People have offered their homes in Queensland and other countries if people want holidays,” she said.
Ms Riley said the government’s scheme today was “absolutely crucial.”
“People want to stay in their communities, and there are empty houses in their communities.”
Matt Bungard is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.