The number of people accessing homelessness services in the south-west was more than double the national average in the past financial year, a new report reveals.
The federal government's Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report showed 283 clients from Warrnambool and the south-west for every 10,000 people accessed services compared to 108 per 10,000 nationally.
The rate is higher than Ballarat, which had 189 clients per 10,000 population, Geelong at 157 clients per 10,000 population and Bendigo, which had 183 clients per 10,000 population.
High rates of family violence and a lack of affordable housing options are some of the factors driving the invisible crisis.
Warrnambool city councillor Ben Blain said it was an issue across the state and one he was concerned about.
"Personally for me it's something I'm very concerned about," he said.
"It's an issue across the state with the outward migration from cities."
Cr Blain said he was pleased $25 million would be spent on the city as part of the state government's Big Housing Build.
However, he said it would not be an "overnight solution".
"I do think it's going to be a challenge for some time," he said.
Homelessness advocate Les Twentyman, who recently visited Warrnambool, said he was concerned about the city's lack of affordable housing.
He said people who had never been faced with the prospect of homelessness were finding it increasingly difficult to find a place to live.
Mr Twentyman said this could have a negative impact on a person's self esteem.
"Far too many people are living rough," he said.
"With that comes danger and poor health."
Mr Twentyman said state and federal governments needed to invest more money in social housing and organisations that support people who are finding it difficult to find affordable housing.
The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated housing affordability in Australia, the homelessness report reveals.
"Prolonged lockdowns and business closures have caused many households to experience income losses, resulting in increased housing stress, while the ongoing housing price boom has put out of reach for many Australians the chance to own their own home and further driven up the rental cost to beyond affordable for many renters," it states.
In parliament last week Member for Western Victoria Bev McArthur said she was concerned some of society's most vulnerable were unable to access affordable items from charity shops.
The state government classifies op shops - or charity shops - as non-essential outlets.
That means only people who are double vaxxed can enter the retail outlets.
"People are being turned away - the very people who need help - potentially the most vulnerable among us who rely on such organisations for survival," Mrs McArthur said.
"For many, they are the only affordable sources of basic items such as socks, underwear, clothing, kitchen items, the stuff of daily life given other stores are also off limits to unvaccinated customers.
"Not only is this Government mandating vaccinations - but via this abhorrent classification - it is mandating cruelty to those in need."
Mr Twentyman said he was shocked by this ruling and said people experiencing financial strain should be able to access products from the shops.
He said he hoped people experiencing financial issues would not turn to illegal means to access items.
A state government spokesman said patrons over the age of 12 years and two months must be fully vaccinated to visit a charity shop, like other general retail settings.
"We've been taking the vaccine to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage through pop-up clinics, mobile vans, homeless services, drop-in centres and crisis accommodation across Victoria," he said.
"We know people without a secure home are highly vulnerable to COVID-19, which is why we've been working tirelessly to remove any barriers to people accessing the vaccine."
Brophy Family and Youth Services housing support and linkages team leader Leah McDonald said there had been a large increase of people who wouldn't normally be accessing homelessness services reaching out for help.
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