The following stories are typical of what we have previously heard from around our local government area, but all names, photos and other identifying details have been changed. These stories, and more, are true life experiences that the Yarra Ranges Council Housing Strategy 2023 is looking to address.

Margaret, facing homelessness

Margaret, a 68-year-old woman, has found herself in a dire housing situation in the Yarra Ranges. Until recently she had lived a quiet, contented life in Warburton, a town she had called home for over 40 years. Margaret's life took a drastic turn when her declining health and unforeseen financial setbacks led to her losing her beloved bungalow.

Despite her efforts to reach out to local charities and shelters, Margaret yearns to have a stable, permanent place to call home in the Yarra Ranges, particularly in Warburton, a town that holds a special place in her heart. She envisions a small, affordable, and senior-friendly accommodation that offers safety and a sense of community. In Warburton, she could reconnect with friends and neighbours who have been her support system for decades.

Margaret's quest for stable housing is deeply rooted in her emotional connection to Warburton. She's been an active member of this community for over 40 years, raising her children, making lifelong friends, and contributing to local causes. Her dream is to find a small, affordable, and senior-friendly home in Warburton.

Margaret's desire for housing goes beyond just shelter; she longs for a place that retains the connection to the town she loves so much. Proximity to essential services, like a local medical clinic, is of paramount importance, given her health concerns. In her ideal scenario, she'd find a supportive living community or a subsidised housing option that allows her to continue her life in Warburton with a sense of belonging and security.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address Margaret's situation in Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity and Chapter 10- Affordability

John & Mary, retired and looking to downsize

John and Mary are a retired couple in their late 60s who have called Healesville home for several decades. Recently the upkeep of their current residence, particularly their garden given the bushfire concerns, has become too much to handle. They have decided to downsize from their spacious home and acreagein Healesville. They are eager to remain in the Yarra Ranges, as they cherish the serene countryside and the strong sense of community that the area offers.

Despite their determination, John and Mary have found it exceptionally challenging to find a suitable, smaller dwelling that fits their budget and needs. They dream of a one-bedroom apartment or a cozy townhouse within Healesville or a neighbouring township, ideally close to a local healthcare facility and public transport to meet their needs as they age.

John and Mary's housing journey is about finding the right place to start the next chapter of their lives. Their search needs to offer a home that will offers comfort, convenience, and a sense of community. Staying close to facilities like The Memo and social clubs is essential for them.

Their housing journey is more than just finding a smaller house; it's about retaining the familiar surroundings and social connections they've built over the years. They value access to local amenities, such as shops, parks, and community organisations, that enhance their quality of life and allow them to continue participating actively in the town they love.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address John & Mary's situation in Chapter 7 - section 7.3 Increased Change and Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity

The Peters, running out of room and needing to upsize

David and Sarah, along with their two young children, Emily, and Liam, are currently seeking a larger house in the Yarra Ranges to accommodate their growing family. They live in a two-bedroom home in Lilydale, but as the kids have grown, the need for more space has become evident.

Their primary challenge lies in finding a spacious, affordable, and family-friendly home within their preferred location of Monbulk or its neighbouring townships. They emphasise proximity to high-quality schools, parks, and childcare options as non-negotiable factors in their housing search.

They’re looking for a place with three bedrooms, a backyard for the kids to play in, and access to high schools, parks, and childcare options. Staying within the Yarra Ranges is non-negotiable, as they cherish the natural beauty and sense of community in the area.

David and Sarah's housing journey is about ensuring their family has a comfortable, safe, and nurturing environment to grow and thrive while preserving their connections to the community.

The family's ideal home would provide room for the kids to play, grow, and study comfortably, while also maintaining easy access to essential services like healthcare, groceries, and public transport. Their story is a testament to the desire of many families to remain in the Yarra Ranges and enjoy the natural beauty and strong sense of community it offers.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address David and Sarah's situation in Chapter 7 - section 7.4 incremental Change and Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity

Khamh, struggling to find affordable rental housing

Khamh is a single man in his early 30s. He loves his job in the aged care industry but it doesn’t pay well. He’s currently sharing a house in Mooroolbark. His steady income should provide him with a sense of security and belonging, but despite reliable work, he's facing a housing crisis.

He really wants to find a rental where he can live on his own and have his partner come and stay, either in Mooroolbark or Kilsyth. But he just can’t afford the rent and most homes that come on the market are three bedrooms which he doesn’t need.

The availability of affordable rental is limited so he’s looking further afield in Bayswater or Croydon; forcing him to contemplate leaving Yarra Ranges.

hamh’s journey is a testament to the housing affordability issues faced by many individuals in the Yarra Ranges. He has made lots of friends in Mooroolbark and volunteers at Animal Aid in Coldstream as he loves animals but can’t have one in his rented shared home. He really wants to stay close by to continue his friendships and volunteering.

He’s looking for a simple one or two-bedroom apartment that aligns with his budget, enabling him to stay in the Yarra Ranges. Khamh’s story sheds light on the housing affordability issues that affect many single individuals in the Yarra Ranges.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address Khamh's situation in Chapter 7 - section 7.2 Substantial Change and Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity

Rosanna, single and living with disability

Rosanna, a woman with low vision, lives in Woori Yallock. Her life story is one of resilience given some of the challenges she’s had to navigate through life.

Yet, one significant obstacle she faces is finding a home that caters to her unique needs.

Rosanna would like to find secure, accessible and inclusive housing in Lilydale, so she can access the good public transport links and take her guide dog Bertie for walks around Lillydale Lake.

Rosanna works part-time in Lilydale at a school, so being able to find a home nearby would really improve her life. Now she has to get the bus to and from work and this can take some time.

It’s important for Rosanna to be in a settled location because her beloved guide dog needs to be trained to understand and help navigate her through new locations.

Being close to medical facilities and shops is also crucial for Rosanna's independence.

Rosanna's housing journey is a testament to the need for more universally accessible homes in the Yarra Ranges. She seeks a place that offers not just comfort and safety but also empowerment and the opportunity to thrive in her community.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address Rosanna's situation in Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity

Elena, ready for her first home purchase.

Elena, a first-time homebuyer in her mid 20’s, is determined to make Mt Evelyn her permanent home. She grew up in Mt Evelyn and her parents still live there – and Elena wants to have her own place now. Not only are her friends there but she loves the majestic trees, close-knit community, visiting the cozy cafes while still being able to get to the city easily.

However, with so many homes being three bedrooms or more and too expensive she’s struggling to be able to find anything suitable even though she has reasonable savings.

Currently renting a small one-bedroom apartment in Narre Warren, Elena’s ambition is to secure a small one or two-bedroom home where she can be close to her parents, friends and favourite cafes.

The challenge Elena faces is not just financial but also emotional, as she is so frustrated that what she’s looking for simply doesn’t exist.

Her journey is symbolic of the struggle faced by many young, first-time buyers who to stay in the area they love while becoming homeowners.

Elena is a great example of how the housing challenges faced by various individuals and families in the Yarra Ranges, emphasising the critical need for more affordable, accessible, and suitable housing solutions in the region.

You can read more about how the Housing Strategy is looking to address Elena's situation in Chapter 9 - Housing Diversity.