Without a home or shelter: A face of Victor Harbor's homelessness issue

Alison Ball is a Victor Harbor local, a disabled pensioner and also a victim of circumstance which has left her homeless and living on the streets. 

Alison who has suffered from the debilitating conditions rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 2006, spends her days wheeling around a small trolley with her remaining possessions whilst looking for quiet parks to sleep in. 

At night she collects cans and bottles from rubbish bins, mainly out of boredom.

She was recently renting a unit in Victor Harbor, but following the death of the property's owner, was forced to move out after a lengthy dispute over her eviction, when the property was sold.

Over the last nine years while renting, Alison said she has never had any issues with inspections and was never late with a single rental payment, all of which were made two weeks in advance.

With a Housing Trust SA supported budget of $230 per week, Alison has struggled to find a new property and said there are many people in Victor Harbor in similar situations.

Local real estate agents confirmed there is a significant on-going shortage of properties in Victor Harbor available for rent under $270 per week.

"It's just ridiculous," said Alison. "I've been looking for a new unit since 2016 and in two years, I've been to every land agent in Victor Harbor and Port Elliot.

"It takes four to five weeks to get an inspection, then four weeks until you find out a result. People in my situation can't wait that long."

Alison was also critical of local real estate agents, suggesting that many homes she has applied for remain empty.

"They are supposed to go by your rental history and paperwork, not your circumstances," she said.

"It's not quite right that an older, disabled person like myself is out on the street."

Following her eviction in February, Alison was forced to get rid of all, but a few of her possessions.

"I had to dump everything at Salvos," she said. "At night I would sit and watch other people come and take all my things, including my grand kid's toys, it was heartbreaking."

By Alison's measure, there are over 100 locals suffering the effects of homelessness in Victor Harbor alone.

"I see people sleeping all over the place in Victor Harbor. You might not see them during the day, but we all come out at night," she said.

"I do my best and try to leave scones and other food I collect from churches out for the others." 

Alison said there are members of the community who recognise the issue and do care.

An Adare church goer was kind enough to let Alison, a complete stranger, spend a night in her home after regularly seeing her out on the street.

She then paid for Alison to have a short respite in the Apollo Motel, who provided a discount to ensure Alison could recuperate for four nights before the recent long weekend. 

Now back out on the street, Alison said she was struggling.

"My conditions can be very painful which makes things hard," she said.

"It's very stressful being out on the street. Boredom kills me and I'm very limited in what I can do.

"I can't go shopping because I have my trolley with my mattresses and things so I have to wait until night time when it's quieter. 

"Even then it's hard to get around and I'm limited in what I can eat and drink because I don't have any kitchen facilities."

Alison spends most of her time trying to stay out of the public eye. She often uses public barbecues to cook warm food and sleeps on an old mattress in parks.

However this leaves her open to the elements and Alison said she rarely felt safe.

"It's really a Catch 22," she said. "You can't get by without a home, and you can't get a home without a job."

Alison said that clearly something needed to be done about the housing situation locally, suggesting vacant holiday homes could be used to temporarily accommodate people in similar situations to herself.

"People like me are clean and tidy," she said. "We are no trouble, we just need somewhere affordable to live or get some shelter. 

"All I can do at the moment is just keep applying for units until I find something, or end up sick in the hospital or dead."

Out on the Streets: Alison Ball has found herself out on the streets due to a lack of affordable housing in Victor Harbor.

Out on the Streets: Alison Ball has found herself out on the streets due to a lack of affordable housing in Victor Harbor.