A couple years ago I had no place to call a home. I was homeless for more than three years. Sleeping from house to house, couch-surfing to the point where I had to sleep in public areas like the bus stop.

People don’t understand what it means to be homeless, some people don’t understand what it means to not call somewhere home, not have somewhere to sleep every night.

The worry of thinking, ‘it’s getting dark, where can I sleep tonight?’

I got sympathy but not understanding.

I will tell you a little bit about myself.

I came to Australia when I was 8 or 9 years old with my dad. Five years ago he had to go back, due to his health and he struggled to find a job. We lived on Centrelink. He felt he had failed as a father but he also couldn’t stay.

When he left, things did not go well with the family I was left with. At first, I thought I was going to get support that I needed as there are places to help. After couch surfing, I went to one shelter.

This environment was toxic and I wanted to focus on my study. I thought, ‘I can’t stay here’.

I went to a women’s centre but I couldn’t pay as I had no money and the environment was not safe for me.

I was getting no money or support, I worked at my job with KFC but it wasn’t enough to feed myself. I was proud to make the money I did, it was like the lottery.

I went to another shelter to get help. I had to lie to get help. Even though they knew my history with abuse and serious homelessness. Once I lied, I had a house in a week, I had a proper shower. I had someone checking in on me and it was comforting.

For the first time, it felt like someone cared, asking me if okay. I was in survival mode to have a home, a place to grow. Then they found out I had lied, and I was thrown out.

I slept in a car for a while and back on the streets again. I tried to stay with friends a lot, I got kicked out because I couldn’t contribute so I had to leave. I couldn’t help in any way. I began shoplifting to survive. I had no clothes. I am not proud of this. I began begging for money – just another black kid on the street.

And I tried to contact another organisation for support, and I was constantly told I had to wait. Some places could only give me a bus ticket and because I had a bus stop to sleep in, I was told I was not of high importance.

I was lacking in education. I couldn’t take food to school. I couldn’t afford to attend school excursions and I had to pretend I wasn’t interested but it was just that I had no money.

I graduated from school and I went into study Youth Work at TAFE. I got my bill for the course and I couldn’t pay so I had to drop out.

I had troubles with getting help from Centrelink due to citizenship and dad leaving with all of my information, so I was rejected. My school teacher explained the situation to Centrelink and I was given a social worker and the payments finally happened.

I went to HYPA and this time I was able to get a place in HYPA Housing. I couldn’t believe that I finally had a place. After sleeping on the bus stop for three years. It was a dream come true.  

When the youth worker reached out to me and I went to see the house, I have never been so happy. The first night I slept there, I have never appreciated something so much. I had a place to call a home. It was a big deal for me. It made me excited that I had a place to call my own. I was able to eat proper food. I was able to sit inside away from the cold.

It’s a big deal to have a place to shelter to yourself.

I felt like my life was meant to go bad, I was going down the route of depression and suicidal thoughts. I never had anyone. But when I got my house, I was excited. I didn’t care what it looked like I just wanted to live there.

I could start focusing on my school and making food, I could shower, I could begin my independence.

HYPA has been the only organisation that has asked, ‘Are you okay? How can I support you?’ I had other places say this but not act on it. With HYPA this was first, they asked, and they supported.

With the help of HYPA I was able to achieve my goals of getting a car, my license and my first job relating to my studies. Now I am a mental health support worker and a mother to be.

Thank you to HYPA and to everyone who has helped along my way and in my journey, I thank you so much. I made mistakes along the way but HYPA stuck by me and I am thankful for this. It’s because of HYPA that my child will not be homeless and I can focus on being the best mum. 

 

young black woman on couch - unsplash