Community members, groups and churches have met in Bunbury to take action aimed at breaking the poverty cycle.
Gathering recently to form the region’s first Habitat for Humanity chapter, the group is determined to help struggling South West families build their own home and get back on their feet.
The initiative enables low income families to achieve the dream of building and owning their homes through building partnerships with the not-for-profit organisation.
Families involved receive a low interest loan and volunteers help with planning and construction of the house.
Selected families pay a $500 deposit and are required to invest 500 hours of labour into their future home.
Uniting Church Reverend Greg Ross said he had seen an increase over the past 12 months in the number of South West residents who struggled with poverty and were forced to turn to the church and other agencies for help.
‘‘In our working relationship with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul and a couple of the other agencies, they’ve been saying the higher demand has been extraordinary,’’ Rev Ross said.
In 2009-2010 the cost of utilities increased by $323 a year and Mr Ross said many families had come to their wit’s end, facing increasing levels of housing related stress as their budgets were stretched.
‘‘I think anything that gets a family into a better place where children are safe and housed well will be positive for the community,’’ Rev Ross said.
Church relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Eric Lindbloom said participating families were left with a great sense of ownership through the approach.
‘‘We build homes, we build community and we build hope,’’ Mr Lindbloom said.
‘‘Once you get a house started it’s self perpetuating because people see what is possible.’’
The group’s next meeting is at Bunbury’s Uniting Church on March 14.
Anyone interested in donating time or resources to the project can contact Kaye on 0457 317 187 or Greg on 0417 637 944.