Owner finds Gladstone man living under home, police arrive
DESPITE rock-bottom prices in the local private housing market, people are still feeling the pressures of housing costs.
Anglicare Central Queensland housing manager Melinda White said many of the residents who stayed in Gladstone after the downturn were struggling.
"In a way the need for affordable housing has decreased, but that's only because people are leaving town," Ms White said.
"But those who stay are under pressure, and may be locked into rental contracts they can no longer afford."
Ms White said Anglicare was able to assist people under financial stress with affordable pricing that was below market price.
The issue of affordable housing was highlighted in a recent court case, when a Gladstone man pleaded guilty to trespassing after he was found sleeping underneath a vacant home.
Gladstone Magistrates Court heard the 59-year-old had been sleeping on his own mattress, on the ground level of a built-up Auckland St house for a number of weeks.
Police prosecutor Gavin Reece said the homeowner found the man's belongings when checking the property.
Mr Reece said the homeowner moved the man's belongings to the front of the property, with a note asking him to leave, but the man was there again when police arrived that night and he was charged.
He spent the night in the police watch house with nowhere else to go.
Duty lawyer Grant Cagney said the man planned to leave when asked, but decided to wait until morning because it was raining heavily.
Mr Cagney said the man had taken good care of property, even sweeping the lower level and gardening.
He said the past three months had been difficult for the man, who found himself homeless after a relationship breakdown.
Mr Cagney said more recently, the man had lost access to his van, where he had been sleeping.
Magistrate Jeffrey Clarke said it was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.
"It's sad to see you here in this situation," Mr Clarke told the man.
"But you must respect the property rights of others."
The man was fined $300.
A suspended sentence he was on for unrelated offending was also extended by one month.
For more information on community housing or the National Rental Affordability Scheme in Gladstone, visit www.anglicarecq.org.au.
WHERE TO FIND SUPPORT
Anglicare, 4972 8220
Homeless Hotline, 1800 474 753
Ozcare, 1800 692 273
Roseberry Community Services, 4972 0047
Salvation Army, 4972 1844
St Vincent De Paul, 4972 2662
UnitingCare Community, 4970 1600