communal justice – housing

We had the PPW communal justice network meeting today in DPFCC [the women’s prison]. Janey Muir-Smith, director of the Judy Lazarus Transition Centre, met with us to talk about transition and post-release issues, and what we might be able to do to help. The primary issue outside the prison is housing, the primary issue inside the prison is mental health.

There was another conversation about the rental crisis on the radio on the way home – the vacancy rate in melbourne is the lowest on record, and it’s only going to get worse as there are more foreclosures, etc. Not only does this mean that the cost of renting is at record levels, it also means that the competition for each property is fierce. The program host was interviewing people – employed professionals – about their lack of success in finding places to live. What they didn’t talk about was what that means for those who are much further down the pecking order: when the applications for each property number in their hundreds, and include accountants and lawyers, who would pick someone fresh out of prison?

The uniting church is short of ministers. i suspect there are a number of congregations who are renting out manses. perhaps the church should ask them to rent their manses to those who will get housing nowhere else. i’m going to find out a bit about this during the week…