"We think about them often, because the system is failing them. I hope they've got someone who'll take them in, and they get back on their feet."
Those were the heart-warming words of one of Dubbo's prominent real estate agents, Laura Shooter, of SJ Shooter Real Estate, after a family was evicted from a rental property her real estate manages.
Following the termination of the rental agreement with the family, whom we cannot name for privacy reasons, the Dubbo sheriff's office ended up forcibly evicting them from Shooter's managed property because they wouldn't leave.
The reason the family wouldn't vacate the rental property is a combination of affordability and the circumstances they were in, according to Ms Shooter.
But Ms Shooter, a former government family support worker, said her agency sought the sheriff's lockout order because the family stayed at the rental property longer than the legally required period under the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
"They were given the correct notice months before, but the reason [they cannot find a house] is because of lack of suitable rental places for them to go into," she said.
"Unfortunately it's hard for us and so brutal to be involved in that part that leads to a family [evicted].
"The demand for affordable rental properties is far greater than what's available in our area ... if we don't have a suitable property for the family, then we can't do anything.
"It's an awful, gut-wrenching feeling having to look people in the eye and tell them we can't help with the very basic thing they need, which is shelter."
Since 2005, Ms Shooter said the housing industry in the region had seen increasing demand for medium-density housing that has not yet been met outside of existing housing developments and housing projects for those over 55.
"In Dubbo, we've not kept up with demand for smaller properties, and this is part of why prices are going up beyond other people's affordability, as we lack suitable stock," Ms Shooter said.
"The townhouse development at the former forestry office site is good news for Dubbo.
"This family's situation shows the real fallout of the housing shortage is increased cases of homelessness for vulnerable people."
The rental prices are going up as smaller homes or medium-density housing become rare, particularly in growing regional communities like Dubbo-Orana where it's needed, according to Ms Shooter.
According to the government's Productivity Commission's report in its review of the housing needs across Australia released last September, housing affordability is the main problem why many ordinary households are now unable to rent or buy a home.
The commission's key findings in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) report, according to commissioner Malcolm Roberts, revealed that access to affordable housing has been "ineffective" and that there "needed to better target the $16 billion they spend on housing assistance".
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"Over the life of the NHHA, housing affordability has deteriorated for many people especially people renting in the private market," Mr Roberts said.
"The median low-income renter spends over a third (36 per cent) of their income on rent. About 1 in 5 low-income households are left with less than $250 after paying their weekly rent.
"With the private market becoming less affordable, demand for homelessness services and social housing is rising."
In the Far West and Orana region, there are 2,923 households or 24.5 per cent of the 115,566 latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population count paying more than 30 per cent of their weekly income to have a roof over their heads.
To be on the social housing waiting list in the region, the waiting time starts from two years and beyond with an estimated 3,000 or more applicants, according to Shelter NSW's Housing Need Report released last year.
Thus, housing support services across the region are grappling with meeting the needs of constantly rising number of families and individuals looking for affordable properties.
Across NSW, the waiting list for social housing applications has reached over 50,000 or an estimated 100,000 everyday Australians in the low-income bracket, according to the charitable organisation St Vincent de Paul Society's submission to a parliamentary inquiry last August.
"This family's situation shows the real fallout of housing shortage is increased cases of homelessness for vulnerable people," Ms Shooter said.
"Not for people with resources, who can afford to solve their problems, but it becomes a crisis for vulnerable people.
"I won't call it a housing crisis but a housing shortage that becomes a crisis for vulnerable people."