A mum forced to live in her minivan for 5 months after failing to pay her rent illustrates Australia’s deepening housing disaster.
Mandy Weber, 51, has been living in her minivan with her dog Diesel since February because she failed to pay rent in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.
A former stage crossing guard travels the world looking for parking spaces at night, but has had some scary encounters.
“You might not be too comfortable sleeping in the back… because people are coming up to your car, they will bang on the window. It scares me,” she advised ABC.
Ms Weber previously made headlines more than two years after she expressed concerns that she could be forced into homelessness due to the Covid pandemic.
She managed to keep a roof over her household’s head thanks to high levels of help from the authorities, but since then she has been unable to cope with the pressure on house prices.
Mandy Webber, 51 (pictured), has been living in her minivan since February after failing to pay rent on a house in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.
She described the agony of maneuvering her van every day while she searches for a place to park so she can sleep at night.
“Every once in a while you get an aggressive person saying, ‘Eff, what are you doing, go look for a job loser,'” she said.
‘It’s very scary. I’ve had people bang on the windows of my house and make me do maneuvers in the middle of the night, in the middle of the morning.
The mother-of-two, who was pressured to quit her job because of a coronary heart condition, said she has now started parking in further outlying areas because of a backlash from residents in inner-city areas.
“At first I thought it would be safer to park on the streets where there are people. But it’s probably not safer because they don’t need you,” she pointed out.
Ms. Weber receives a disability pension that pays her just over $1,000 every two weeks.
But it’s quickly being swallowed up by unpaid payments on her previous property, numerous fines and fees, and $175 per fortnight for a locker for her belongings.
Once these funds are obtained, she will have approximately $550 to see her through the 2 weeks.
Her only indulgence is a $75 membership to the Geelong Cats, which she follows avidly.
Mrs. Weber is known for housing at an extremely reasonable price.
‘It’s not whining. The authorities should just step in and help people get out of poverty and lead regular lives,” she said.
‘I don’t ask for much. I’m not asking for a mansion.
“I speak for all the other homeless people I know. We just need affordable housing.
The former crossing guard scours the area looking for overnight parking, but has had some scary encounters (pictured, Ms Weber’s dog, Diesel)
Despite her situation, Ms. Weber is grateful for what she has.
“People have really told me that this (her van) is the best thing for the homeless,” she stated.
“I’m lucky to have a car to sleep in. I don’t have to drive on the street.”
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Ms Weber is far from alone, with around 4,500 people accessing homelessness services sleeping in their vehicles in the last financial year.
The Australian capital has a very low rental vacancy rate of 1.2 per cent, resulting in rents rising by 20.7 per cent over the past year, according to data from SQM Research.
All but one state or territory experienced an unexpected fall in the number of new properties being built.
The first quarter of 2023 was the weakest quarter of building approvals nationwide since 2012, and many experts did not see that coming.
Total building approvals in NSW fell 34.1% year-on-year in March, while in Victoria they were down 26.6%.
Ms Weber has previously opened up about the everyday struggles of ordinary Austrians.
Her living situation has deteriorated in recent years, and the mother said she fears becoming homeless in 2020.
She said she has been able to better support herself and her family thanks to JobSeeker’s promotion during the Covid pandemic.
Mrs. Weber managed to keep a roof over her family’s head and even afford a new refrigerator.
It means the world to us. It gives us the dignity to be able to pay the necessary bills,” she stated.
“It eliminates the embarrassment of running errands and putting things back because you don’t have enough money.”