A new survey has confirmed long-term residents are bearing the brunt of the region’s housing crisis, with serious concerns about the mental health toll on families finding themselves with nowhere to live. With rental prices skyrocketing and availability at an all-time low, housing advocacy group Just Home Margaret River this week released the findings of its latest report. The I Wouldn’t Wish This On Anyone report found rental vacancies were at an astonishing 0.2 per cent, with 74 families confirmed as homeless or facing immediate risk of homelessness. But Just Home chair and Shire of Augusta-Margaret River councillor Naomi Godden said the new survey revealed just “the tip of the iceberg”, with some respondents saying they would leave the region without housing options. She said she believed independent Just Home data meant twice the number of residents surveyed were in dire straits — 150 households with up to 400 people, including children. “The ending of the moratorium on evictions and ban on rent increases (later this month) will coincide with the end of JobKeeper and the return to a lower rate of JobSeeker,” Cr Godden said. “Nearly 50 per cent of survey respondents receive some form of income support.” The findings confirm the 2019 Val Lishman report which pointed to a widening gap between rich and poor residents. Stories from the survey revealed single mothers were among the worst affected; some homeless residents were juggling work commitments and very young children; and those on disability and unemployment benefits risked losing their long-term connection with the region. Mindful Margaret River chair Stuart Hicks said there was no doubt the housing crisis was having a knock-on effect on the region’s wellbeing. “Mindful Margaret River knows that homelessness is often part of a wider set of issues for each individual,” he said. “A person’s mental wellbeing can take an absolute beating under this pressure.” Shire president Ian Earl also predicted the end of the rental moratorium would add to the region’s woes. “It is going to be tough for some people,” he said. Cr Earl said he believed landlords were best served by good, reliable tenants, rather than chasing the chance to charge higher rents. “Once the moratorium ends, people who haven’t paid any rent over the COVID-19 period or are unreliable will find it very difficult to rent, when owners can pick and choose,” he said. “This housing shortage will take some time to work through. “It doesn’t help, but we are not alone, as a shire, with this problem.” Just Home has produced an action plan for the WA Government to coincide with the report’s release.