For the love of… His
Moving towns to pay rent
Housing Stress – What’s the true cost of the roof over your head?
As the Community Capacity Builder at VincentCare’s early intervention and prevention to homelessness program, HomeConnect, I feel fortunate to have regular contact with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. People that access VincentCare’s support programs arrive with a primary need of housing support.
*Ron is one of those people, this is his story.
Ron has a long history of housing transience and instability; he has had episodes of homelessness and on one occasion he slept in a park for a couple of months, as well as couch surfing and sleeping in a caravan. For most of his life he has lived with others, generally a partner or family member, he hadn’t experienced living alone in his own property until early 2014 when he moved into a privately rented property in Broadmeadows.
Ron is 43 years old; he is a concreter by trade and has been a hard worker for most of his life – entering the work force at age 15. Whilst helping a friend out with a job, Ron had an accident and almost lost both of his legs, this leaving him physically incapable to work. Amongst the set back of his physical condition and being hospitalised for more than a month, he was discharged to a less than ideal private rental property, with no heating or cooling, a leaking roof and high cost rent.
Ron suggested by this point he had hit rock bottom, only to be told by his landlord that he is to be evicted as the property he lives in is going up for sale. Ron unable to work applied for a newstart benefit through Centrelink but knew only too well that it would be a real struggle for him to find another property on a Centrelink benefit and in the current housing climate.
Ron linked himself with the HomeConnect program at VincentCare and says this was a saving grace in preventing him from living on the streets again. Due to the cost of living in Melbourne and surrounding areas and the quality of rental properties available for the price, he was forced to change postcodes and relocate to Geelong. Ron is now living in a 1 bedroom rental property paying $180 per week.
Ron outlined this was not initially ideal for him and he was apprehensive about moving to a new area that he was not familiar with or have any links to. He says the move to Geelong has been affordable and in hindsight has allowed him to leave a lot of “unwanted kilometres behind him” from his troubled past.
Since Ron was a child, he had a vision that he would own a family home with a dog and the white picket fence and says he still hasn’t given up hope on this dream. Ron’s views on the current housing situation aren’t positive, he believes it is “out of control, there are more and more homeless older people on the streets and it is devastating to see. What is available for rent is sub standard and too expensive. People have to relocate for affordability. Something must be done.”
Although not all housing outcomes may seem ideal from the initial onset, there can be positives to the way in which a journey has unfolded. Ron’s experience is exactly that, he has been able to relocate and settle in a new community and has seen the good that this has offered him, including an opportunity to leave his unwanted past behind. As a program, it is a delight to see positive housing outcomes and participants of our program happily settled.
*Originally published by Anna Owens as contributor for ABC Open Drum