Thinking outside the square.Thats usually where you find innovative solutions.Solutions which work. I know from contact over the years that several of the people who hub through Sydney’s itinerant living community are seasonal workers. The reason that they are unable to afford stable housing is that their work cycle extends the length and breadth of Australia, with seasonal harvest labor requirements as far flung as Tasmania, Far North Queensland and South Western Australia. In the main seasonal workers tend to fall between the eligibility cracks for social housing due largely to their not being in one place or state for the minimum prescribed period. When in “Harvest Towns” they either stay in pickers accommodation, backpackers or camp in the long grass. Where they pay for accommodation, it tends to be at premium prices because “harvest season” is the high season for the local tourist industry and who could blame those businesses.In some cases their business would not survive without the income derived in the harvest season.Even inner city hotels have their high and low seasons.

In gap periods between harvest seasons many itinerant workers end up on the dole and sleeping rough, having spent their earnings largely on accommodation, transport and food in the periods when they are working.The low income nature of most seasonal work means that at best only modest savings are possible.

Recently Prime Minister Gillard has flagged her intention to support a program of population migration to regional Australia.While this may be very beneficial to Mining Companies who typically have thirty year lifespans on their mines it may not assist those primarily agricultural regions with seasonal labour demands or the workforce they might hope to attract.Those contemplating such a move might be challenged by the need to service their annual living costs from seasonal incomes.

The Typical investment in a conventional social housing property can range from $250,000 to over $400,000 per unit. Mobile homes can cost from $60,000 to $120,000. They give workers the flexibility to relocate easily to locations where work exists while eliminating or minimising accommodation costs.

Many Homeless people would also be incentivised to select this option as a viable alternative to social housing.

In the interests of reducing the ever increasing demand for taxpayers dollars, government need to give serious consideration to assisting with purchases or giving grants or even using mobile homes as a viable cost effective social housing option.

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