Members of the community share their stories

Lisa

Lisa was 21 years old and seven months pregnant with her daughter, Bella, when her support commenced. She had been working full time during her pregnancy but was forced to couch-surf with friends after fleeing a violent relationship, and faced a drastic loss of income and limited housing options once Bella was born. 

Lisa needed a safe space to bring Bella home, and was lucky enough to move into social housing a few weeks prior to giving birth. The stability of social housing allowed Lisa to: 

  • stay safe from the perpetrator, 
  • link into local community groups; 
  • create a support system;
  • get Bella into childcare; and
  • return to part time work

None of these things would have been achievable if Lisa didn’t have stable, secure, affordable housing.

Imahaa

Imahaa and her two young daughters relocated to Melbourne From Adelaide to be closer to her family. When she arrived she was staying with family, but this soon became over crowded and unliveable for the children.

Imahaa ended up in motel crisis accommodation. Due to the shortage of resources during the COVID 19 period, she stayed in the motel for over 2 months. She actively applied for many private rentals but was knocked back again and again. The reason behind this was due to her previous tenancy – they took part of the bond to do a professional clean. This hindered the family’s opportunity to gain more housing. 

Imahaa worked with a support services, who supported her with strong advocacy and after many months they were able to find her a suitable private rental property. Imahaa cried with happiness when she received the news and was so relieved and happy that she finally had somewhere for her children, it was a huge relief. 

Awa

Awa, originally from Papua New Guinea, was employed as a manager at a cleaning company. After a family medical emergency and ongoing family health concerns he and his family were unable to afford their rent. Awa, his 3 children, wife and mother ended up homeless as a result. They ended up staying in a small room in a motel while looking for another house. 

Awa wasn’t able to work consistently due to being homeless. Eventually the family secured private rental and Awa was able to return back to full time job. Awa’s eldest daughter also managed to find part time work when the family was re-housed. They are now settled into their new home. 

Harry

Harry had a tough time growing up and was kicked out of the family home as a young person. From there, he couch surfed until he was able to get a place in a rooming house. Expensive and poor quality, but it was still a roof for the time being. 

He began to work as a security guard, but when he was late to pay rent by a few days the rooming house kicked him out. He then sought assistance from a homelessness service, who funded him to stay in purchased accommodation for a few weeks, but due to his situation he lost his job. 

He was then linked with a support worker, who assisted him into a private rental property in the west. Having his own space was such a change for him, he could finally get back on his feet. 

Julia

Julia and her 2 children were forced to leave their home due to a family violence incident from her ex-partner. Julia contacted a family violence service to get safe emergency accommodation. She stayed in a motel for a few nights before the funding ran out and she was then referred to a refuge. 

Julia stayed there for a few weeks before she was forced to leave this accommodation because of safety concerns (from her ex partner) and returned to a hotel, where she stayed for a few more weeks. Once again Julia and her children had to leave this hotel because of safety concerns from the perpetrator. Julia was again forced to leave this accommodation and return to a motel. 

After another month or so, during which time Julia was separated from her children, she was provided with a medium term government funded housing. Finally the family are on their journey to healing and recovering from this trauma.  

Alice

Alice is a 46 year old single woman who has recently experienced homelessness. This is her story of what that experience has been like:

“Being homeless for the first time as a single woman was incredibly fearful. I had lost my husband suddenly from heart complications & was then hit with this global pandemic, but I kept telling myself on bad days that there are many people out there in much worse situations & look at all the positives instead of feeling down. 

All of us face challenges in life and after the initial shock settles down, comes the time to strategise.

It was difficult to find an affordable hotel ($50 a night) with a dog, as well as any other accommodation. I looked into caravan parks but found that a lot were closed because of the pandemic. I found I had to become resourceful to try to help those assisting me and work together. In my search for alternate work (as I’m a chef and could no longer do that job), I needed to not only look online, I had to search anywhere people had put up signs for work and/or accommodation. 

The one thing that has stuck in my mind for weeks and weeks whilst driving around in my search for survival almost is, ‘Why are there so many empty buildings around the city?’ And ‘why on earth have these buildings been sitting there empty for years when there’s people sleeping on freezing cold concrete in the middle of winter?’

The government was able to get all the homeless off the street very quickly once this virus arrived but at what cost? How will this affect our future? 

This is just my story and I’m a strong independent woman who has worked all my life. I had a bout of bad luck although for the majority of my life I’ve had a career and done a degree in nutrition and massage. I feel those accomplishments helped me achieve my goals at the moment, even though the world is a little trickier to navigate around.” 

Download the 2018 Lived Experience Consumer Survey to read more quotes about the experience of homelessness

How you can help

Sign the petition to end homelessness in Victoria.

The Homelessness Networks acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land – the people of the Kulin nation. We pay our respects to the Elders past, present and future, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Networks acknowledge that, as a direct consequence of colonisation, Indigenous peoples are over represented amongst Victorians who do not have a safe home in which to live.