Finding a third way to make a difference to homelessness

Finding a third way to make a difference to homelessness

Something to think about …

No one chooses “homelessness and poverty” as a goal for life!

It took volunteering with Orange Sky Australia for my beliefs about homelessness to be reconstructed. If you have a home you have a place to make memories, to entertain, to celebrate birthdays, to feel safe and to be with the people you love.

I thought people experiencing homelessness didn’t want a home. But I soon discovered that wasn’t true, most people did want a home regardless of the reasons they had become homeless. I realised no one chooses homelessness and poverty as a goal for life!

homeless man sleeping in the park

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

According to Felicity Reynolds, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mercy Foundation, speaking at the National Homelessness Conference August 2018, “Most people experiencing homelessness just need affordable housing!”

“Most people experiencing homelessness just need affordable housing!”

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing consists mostly of rental properties, where the rent is discounted by 20-25% compared to the market rent for a similar property. The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) enables prospective tenants to register and determine their eligibility for affordable housing.

The gap between social housing and the private market continues to increase, according to the National Affordable Housing Consortium, while people experiencing high needs are the focus of social housing, those on low incomes and the disadvantaged, face a constant battle to find affordable housing.

A third way

What is a third way?  It is thinking differently about a situation, thinking a different way, looking for a new way to solve a problem.

Homeowners and property investors have the potential to think about their properties in a third way which could have a direct impact on reducing the shortage of housing.

I was told this story last week, during my Orange Sky shift.

A person who lives in his vehicle was looking for shelter from the recent rain. He had noticed a farm nearby which had a big shed on the property. So he drove up and asked the owner if he could park his van in the shed for a few days until the torrential rain passed! The farmer instantly told him, “To get off his land!”

What if the farmer instead had taken the time to talk to him?

What if he instead engaged in conversation, asked some questions, treated him with kindness and respect as a fellow human being?

What if the the farmer saw an opportunity to barter with the man for a small parking fee or considered if his visitor could trade his time to complete a task on the farm?

What if the farmer thought before he responded? He may have realised there was no reason to feel threatened by his homeless visitor who lived in his car.

What if the farmer had shown the same generosity that millions of Australians have shown to help farmers survive the recent droughts and floods?

What if the farmer thought before he responded? He may have realised there was no reason to feel threatened by his homeless visitor who lived in his car. Maybe, he may have said, “Yes”. And after his visitor left, maybe the farmer would have felt a warm glow inside, the feeling you get when you know you have done something unexpected for a fellow human being! But that never happened!

Why do we have such preconceived negative attitudes towards people living without a home?

The challenge for private homeowners and investors!

The other day I was having coffee with a friend, who is a property investor who owns multiple rental properties. Our discussion led to affordable housing and the shortage of homes. Her approach was one of fairness and reward for loyalty. People who are good tenants and looked after her rental properties reaped the benefits including stable or reduced rents and long-term leases.

Her approach was one of fairness and reward for loyalty. People who are good tenants and looked after her properties reaped the benefits including stable or reduced rents and long-term leases.

Thinking about sharing your property

Family homes with a guest house, granny flat, self-contained unit, unused bedrooms, unused top or bottom floor, or unused garage, all have the potential to earn passive income for the owner occupier.

Of course there are a few challenges to sort out before renting out an area of your existing home. However, there can be many benefits apart from the passive income you can generate.


  • overcoming any fears of allowing a stranger access to your home
  • insurance, landlords insurance does not apply to owner occupiers
  • learning to share facilities in your home with another person not related to you
  • privacy
  • maintaining open and respectful communication with the tenant.


  • security of knowing someone else is living in your home
  • opportunity to have someone to look after any pets and home while on holidays
  • ability to choose a compatible person as a tenant who will offer companionship
  • passive income
  • reduced cleaning responsibilities as the tenant takes responsibility for their area of the home
  • opportunity to trade off maintenance duties (for example, mowing the lawns) with a reduction in rent for the tenant.

Risks can be reduced by implementing a few simple steps:

  • understand your rights and responsibilities as a private landlord
  • screen tenants thoroughly, checking all references
  • start with a short-term lease to trial if you and the tenant are compatible
  • register with a not-for-profit organisation which supports people to enter private rentals, these organisations will provide support and subsidies for the tenant, for example, Launchpad Youth Community
  • reward a good tenant with a long-term lease and any other perks you wish to offer.

Make your property more attractive to tenants, consider:

  • a possible car space for the tenant’s car
  • providing storage or yard space for larger items, for example, cycles
  • providing a separate entrance for the tenant
  • allocating an outdoor area just for the tenant and their visitors
  • partially or fully furnishing the accommodation.

Thinking about people living with disabilities

People living with disabilities require housing that caters for their needs, allowing them to live safely in the home. As private landlords and property investors there is opportunity to reconsider the potential of your property to cater for the needs of people with disabilities.

Thinking about people with pets

More and more often, people see their pets as part of their family. We have all heard someone call their pet, their fur baby! If your property has a suitable area and design for pets, why not allow pets. As there is a greater demand for housing allowing pets, property owners who allow pets will attract a broader range of tenants to screen and select.

Swimming pool, for rent 3 bed 3 bath townhouse, Oxenford, Gold Coast, RentEzy

Thinking about large families

The new housing standards present as a double-edged sword. While attending a conference run by Queensland Shelter I heard how difficult it is to find affordable housing for large families because less and less rental homes have four or more bedrooms.

Abbotsford duplex for rent, 4 beds, 3 baths, 2 garages, RentEzy

Property owners and investors who have three or more bedroom homes have a great opportunity to attract a constant market of potential tenants who are looking for long term rentals for their families.

Marketing your rental property

One of the reasons we accept rental advertisements for privately managed rental properties is because we are aiming to help more tenants access a wider variety of rental properties. The greater the mix of private and managed rental homes, the more choice and ability tenants have to find the right home for them at the right price in the right location.

Rejuventated 3 bed penthouse Strathfield NSW
5 days ago
3 Bedrooms
2 Bathrooms

Rejuventated 3 bedroom penthouse for rent Close to Strathfield schools and station Available now, from 19 May 2020 Be on top of the world and in walking distance to the best schools in Strathfield as well as Strathfield train station. Features include: timber floors throughout apartment 3 bedrooms 2 with mirrored built in robes 2 […]


$620 / week
Beautiful 2 bedrooms apartment
2 days ago
2 Bedrooms
2 Bathrooms
1 Garage

Beautiful 2 bedroom apartment for rent in Bondi Tenant breaking lease Unfortunately we have to leave our amazing apartment in Bondi, and are looking for people to either take over (February 2021) or sign a new lease. Available from: to be discussed. Rent is 900 per week. Beautiful, spacious and bright two-bedroom apartment with ocean […]


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Article written by: Lynda Galway, Managing Director, Open4rent Pty Ltd

General Disclaimer:

The information contained in website is general information only and does not constitute legal, financial or compliance advice. As the federal and state laws relating to renting, managing rental properties, and real estate may have changed, we recommend you check with the relevant State and Territory government department. We also recommend that you obtain your own independent advice about matters relating to landlord obligations, tenancy legislation and supporting documents, and insurance in relation to your responsibility as a private landlord.

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