Lorne boosts adoption of workers’ plan for summer

LORNE business owners are gearing up for another staff-stretched summer, relaunching the towns Adopt-a-Worker program in response to the lack of affordable housing for the workforce.

Trade in the popular seaside town has been severely hampered in recent years, particularly during holiday periods, largely due to falling prices for key workers due to soaring rents and property costs, and pandemic pressures.

The Adopt a Worker program is a creative approach by the Lorne Business & Tourism Association (LTBA) that involves a community appeal for people to house one or more workers during peak city vacation periods.

“Do you have a place on Airbnb or a vacation rental?” LTBA member and HAH cafe owner Leon Walker recently posted on social media.

Like many Surf Coast businesses, HAH Lorne Cafe has struggled with labor shortages.

“At last count there were 270 homes listed, would you rather be looking to list worker housing at a reasonable cost…you may not get as much for your investment, but you are helping a community,” he said. -he writes.

Running the numbers, Mr Walker suggested that if 5% of homes were freed up for short stays, 13 new residences would be freed up for workers essential to the function of local hospitality, retail, trades, health and education.

Mr Walker was particularly pleased with the results of one aspect of last year’s program which targeted teenagers from vacationing families, giving many of them an entry into the job market.

“There’s lots of work, every week, weekends, school holidays, a great experience, fun, and they get paid!” A problem along much of the Surf Coast, Mr Walker said his pitch is relatively simple, ‘we need housing for our short-term workers and long-term housing for our residents and families at long term”.

“No accommodation; no workers; no service; no community,” he said.

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