It can be easy to misunderstand people experiencing homelessness if you’re not aware of the adversities that got them there. When it comes to homeless youth, the latest statistics from the Council to Homeless Persons show that the majority are pushed out of home due to violence in their home or a lack of affordable housing.
Organisations such as Hope Street, whose programs provide emergency accommodation and welfare services, are integral to helping young people escape the cycle of homelessness. Here, we’re sharing stories of five young people* who have turned to Hope Street in troubled times and received the help they needed to get their lives on track. Each story goes some way to showing the diversity of the homelessness experience, as well as highlighting the resilience of these remarkable young people.
Kody’s parents separated when he was a baby and while growing up, he was abused by his mother. Kody’s grandparents later gained custody of him but living with them offered Kody little privacy, which resulted in tension between them. Kody didn’t have a good relationship with his family members and only had occasional contact with his nine half-siblings. When things got bad he had nowhere to stay.
While Kody was at the Hope Street refuge, his case manager helped him to get on top of his medical and dental concerns and applied for housing. Kody managed to find part-time work fitting tyres and decided to move in with his friends. Kody’s case manager continued to work with him for another six weeks, with the understanding that Kody could come back to Hope Street for support whenever he needed it.
A couple of years later, Kody’s case manager received a notice that a property was available for him in Geelong. The case manager tried to contact Kody but his phone number was disconnected. He was eventually reached via Facebook and the case manager learned that Kody was still homeless and sleeping at friends’ places. He says he was hugely appreciative of the effort made to find him. He was elated to finally get his own place and to escape the cycle of homelessness.
Before arriving at Hope Street, Muna would have to get up early every day to pack up her bed which was on the floor, so that her aunt could use her bedroom as a family day care centre. She fought with her aunt a lot as she was made to do all the housework and never allowed to go out. When her uncle would come home he would be drunk, loud and aggressive.
One day, Muna was scared and left with a friend. When she got home, all of her belongings were out in the street. After arriving at Hope Street’s Youth Residential program (refuge), Muna quickly adjusted and established friendships. She attended church every Friday and enthusiastically participated in the house’s routines including cooking.
Muna was very motivated to make changes that would help her to have a safe and stable life. She attends counselling with Hope Street’s Youth Reconciliation Practitioner and recently reconnected with her older brother. Hope Street will continue to support her until she feels fully settled.
Sharon and John were referred to the ‘Hope to Home’ Melton program after experiencing multiple episodes of homelessness. Finding a private rental on their own was difficult due to their young age and lack of rental history. They had accessed crisis accommodation on two occasions but were told that their room would be available only for one night and that they’d be “back on the streets in the morning”. By the time a private rental was secured, Sharon was four months pregnant and they had been couch-surfing with friends and family for eight months.
The Hope to Home program’s Community Integration Facilitator worked with a local real estate agent to secure a one-bedroom unit for Sharon and John. In addition, Hope Street staff successfully applied for $3300 in private rental brokerage, plus food vouchers that provided the couple with financial relief for the first six months. Sharon and John now have a healthy baby boy and have been maintaining their rental property for ten months.
Sheba was seeking emergency accommodation after leaving her family home as a result of conflict. She had been suffering verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her mother and the constant violence in her home made it unsafe for her to return. Sheba’s brother and sister had also left home for the same reasons. Adding to the situation was the pressure from Sheba’s family for her to get married.
After she left home, Sheba was accepted for a six-week emergency stay at the Hope Street refuge. She presented as a 20-year-old woman with low needs but was actually extremely vulnerable due to her past abuse and violence. She also required a language interpreter for more complex discussions as she had limited English abilities.
While at Hope Street, Sheba received a laptop through Enhanced Youth Refuge Funding to help her with her English studies. She worked with her case worker to complete an Office of Housing application and together they explored her housing options.
While at Hope Street, one of Sheba’s friends offered her a place to stay for six months while her husband was overseas; in return Sheba would assist with her friend’s young children. Sheba was eventually offered public housing and says she is now extremely happy in her new home.
*Names have been changed.
Woodgrove is a proud community partner of Hope Street. Learn more about Hope Street here .