It’s an isolated place, inhabited by snakes, but homeless people are pitching tents on the north side of Altona’s Cherry Lake.
Last week, a tent left in a thick copse of trees was seemingly abandoned.
Melbourne Water’s Gerard Morel, whose job it is to manage the land and waterways, said he had left notes at the last two tents he had come across to try to get in touch with the people.
Mr Morel said he had managed to speak to one of the tent dwellers – Dave, aged in his early 20s.
“The issue for him was, he had a little kelpie, and he couldn’t get into emergency accommodation with his dog,” he said.
“And, in a way that I can absolutely understand, he wasn’t prepared to abandon his dog – so here he was stuck in this tent in the woods off Cherry Lake.”
At another isolated Altona site, Truganina Swamp, a small path leads under one thicket.
And there we stumble across a little lean-to with a couch and coffee table, and a tarpaulin overhead.
“Sometimes, you can just tell there’s something not quite right – you can see a path that goes in, it’s a little bit of a sign of disturbance,” Mr Morel said.
Rhonda Collins, manager of Altona-based homelessness service Latitude, said there was no easy solution to homelessness.
“They’ve always been here in some shape or form because, generally speaking, they can be very transient,” she said.
“Quite often, it is because they’ve been burnt by the system several times.
“All they’re really going to be offered is a rooming house.”
Ms Collins said it was extremely difficult for someone to find affordable accommodation if they were on a Centrelink benefit and were single. The maximum Newstart allowance for a single person from age 22 is $535.60 per fortnight.
For someone under 22, the maximum youth allowance is $437.50.
People needing support are encouraged to contact Latitude at 2 Somers Parade, Altona.
Call 9315 0061 or visit latitude.asn.au