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3-039 (Raw)

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It may be remarked, that house accommodation in this colony, and in Melbourne particularly, has scarcely at any time kept pace with the requirements of the inhabitants, viewing the disproportion of mechanical labour to the wants of a rapidly increasing population; and further, as I have had frequent occasion to point out since the gold discovery, the very cause which induced so sudden an augmentation of the population threw every difficulty in the way of providing the requisite accommodation. At this time the town and its suburbs, and the villages for several miles round Melbourne, notwithstanding the steady stream setting through it upon the road to the Gold Fields, are absolutely choked with the teeming population. The most extravagant remit is paid for the most indifferent accommodation, temporary or otherwise. The large profits to be realized from house-rent hold out every temptation to the resident inhabitants to submit to inconvenience, and make personal sacrifices, to give place to tenants or lodgers, and even, in many cases, appear to justify building enterprises, notwithstanding the enormous cost of mechanic labour and materials.
It appeared eighteen months ago as if the age of "weather board" within the city itself was quickly passing away, to be succeeded by a far more durable and creditable style of building; but we are evidently, from necessity, retrograding, and "weather boarding", or even unplaned broad paling, is now largely employed again in the construction of tenements wherever ground can be secured or circumstances reconcile such erections with the provisions of the local Acts. In the suburbs and adjacent villages a great increase in the amount of temporary accommodation of this description, chiefly put up by the labour of mechanics possessed of small portions of land, may be observed. Yet it is evident that no ordinary exertion will keep pace with the call for accommodation even from the floating population of the colony. Hundreds of tents may be seen pitched in prescribed localities in the vicinity of the city; and it is acknowledged that during the past weeks, as at the present time, large numbers of the new corners arriving unprovided with accommodation have, in the first instance, to pass both day and night without shelter at all.