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Noosa opens house to battling families

Blessing: Archbishop Coleridge blesses Assisi House.

Blessing: Archbishop Coleridge blesses Assisi House.

By Emilie Ng

FAMILIES finding it tough in the high rental market on the Sunshine Coast could find consolation in a new outreach program that will provide temporary accommodation for struggling families.

The program, called Assisi House, is a joint initiative of the Noosa District Catholic parish and its St Vincent de Paul Society conference.

Assisi House will be a temporary accommodation for families who cannot afford the high living costs in Noosa.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge officially blessed and opened the house on July 11, and said the project was a great example of the new evangelisation.

Parish priest Fr Mark Franklin said the house would provide short-term accommodation “to help those in urgent need”.

Fr Franklin said the house would be a “social outreach in the community”.

Parish manager Michael Finch said Assisi House was not a crisis or emergency housing program but “very much a parish outreach project”.

“Families with some income can come and have time to collect themselves together and reorganise their situations,” Mr Finch said.

“The hope is by coming through the house, we’ll have a real impact on the lives of some of our local families and a hand-up towards a brighter future.”

Assisting families: Noosa District Catholic parish priest Fr Mark Franklin, president of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Noosa conference Larry McErvale, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Noosa Parish Life and Faith Council chair Denis Meadows, Parish Finance Council chair John Harrison, and assistant priest Fr Jojimon Thomas at the blessing and opening of Assisi House, Tewantin.

Assisting families: Noosa District Catholic parish priest Fr Mark Franklin, president of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Noosa conference Larry McErvale, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Noosa Parish Life and Faith Council chair Denis Meadows, Parish Finance Council chair John Harrison, and assistant priest Fr Jojimon Thomas at the blessing and opening of Assisi House, Tewantin.

Assisi House is a self-funded initiative of the parish, with support from local trades and businesses that donated goods and services towards essential restorations over the past 12 months.

Inspired by a similar project run by the Jubilee Parish, where parish-owned houses are made available to young families wishing to save for a house deposit, Mr Finch said Noosa District Parish acknowledged social housing was a greater demand in the community.

The parish bought the house, a large four-bedroom highset Queenslander near Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church in Tewantin, in April 2013.

The parish’s life and faith council developed a strategic plan to use the house as an outreach to assist families struggling to pay the “ridiculous” rental prices in Noosa.

“People in Brisbane have the misconception that Noosa is an affluent area, but the service industries can’t afford the high rent here,” Mr Finch said.

“Families do struggle, and that’s families with kids at our schools and in the state schools.”

President of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Noosa conference Larry McErvale said “virtually 95 per cent of a family’s income, which is mainly from Centrelink”, went towards rental payments.

“We can work with them to help sort out any problems they have, and refer them to affordable long-term accommodation,” Mr McErvale said.

Local families would go through an interview with the society’s family support service to assess their eligibility of living in the house.

The temporary accommodation would run for an initial 12-week program, or as assessed by the parish and the St Vincent de Paul family support services.

Assisi House is under the patronage of St Francis of Assisi, who was known for his care of the poor and disadvantaged.

For more information about Assisi House, contact Michael Finch on 0418 778 295.

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