Link Wentworth is sharing the stories of their clients to raise awareness about the ongoing issue of homelessness and the need for more social and affordable housing. With Australia’s rental market becoming more expensive and the pandemic impacting employment, more social housing is needed to help vulnerable people who need a home.
Link Wentworth’s digital series is running during Homelessness Week, a national campaign run by Homelessness Australia from the 1st to 8th of August. The theme for 2021 is ‘Everybody Needs A Home’.
In keeping with the theme, seven clients who have experienced homelessness, or were at risk of homelessness, chose to recount their experience so others would understand how it feels to be without a safe and secure home.
Each story shows that a secure place to live gives people a stable foundation to build a fulfilling and healthy life.
John (not his real name) found housing through Link Wentworth after years of experiencing homelessness and housing stress.
“Not knowing you belong anywhere… that’s the hardest thing,” says John.
“It is scary at night because you’re scared of being mugged or being bashed… Every five seconds you are deeply on edge because you don’t know who’s going to hit you, or who’s going to attack you, or who’s going to rob you of what little you’ve got left. It is scary as hell on the streets.”
Now that John has secure housing, he says he is relieved to no longer experience so much stress and worry. “It is everything to have a home… To be out of the cold, that’s the main thing. To be out of the cold.”
Another client, Taylah (not her real name), proves that homelessness can take on many different forms. A single mother who escaped an abusive relationship, Taylah’s only option was to rent a unit through a private landlord. It had no safety locks on the doors or windows to protect her and her children.
Due to a combination of mental health problems and COVID-19 disruptions, Taylah fell behind in rent and was evicted.
“Back then my mental health was very bad and I felt that I couldn’t cope with anything,” Taylah says. “I felt like I couldn’t speak out… I would lock myself in the unit most of the time and close all the blinds and was fearful of leaving the property.”
Since gaining a transitional property through Link Wentworth, Taylah has said her mental health has improved and she’s been able to start studying. She has also sought care for her children and enrolled them in daycare, allowing her to become part of her local community.
Taylah says she felt it was important to share her story to “show that there is help there and that people can move forward when they have support and understanding”.
Link Wentworth runs three Specialist Homelessness Services in the Blue Mountains, Nepean and Hawkesbury region, focusing on adult homelessness and housing, tenancy support and domestic violence support.
The rental market in Australia is less affordable than ever before, according to the 2021 Anglicare Rental Affordability snapshot and CoreLogic’s Rental Review for the June 2021 quarter. Link Wentworth strongly advocates building more social and affordable housing properties to meet increasing demand.