Stability builds strength

A young child, a cancelled work shift, an unexpected bill, a relationship breakdown.

Just one of these stressors can make an impact in your life; all combined might make a pretty tough week; but imagine also being unsure whether you will still have a roof over your head in the coming month. 

Elissia is all too familiar with this scenario.

She and her 3-year-old daughter, Ava, moved house four times in one year to stay ahead financially until one day there was nowhere else to go.

“I was looking at all my options and really worried I’d be homeless,” she said.

“I started taking on extra shifts at my work, I had just bought my first cheap car and I genuinely made plans that I would have to live in it and arrange something else for my daughter.”

Everybody’s Home wrote in its submission to the Federal Government’s Measuring What Matters report: “Homes are central to our health and wellbeing. Homes are the foundation for stable families and strong communities. Housing in Australia has never been less affordable or more volatile. Australians are spending record amounts on housing, and more and more people in every age group and demographic are living in housing stress.”

In the 2018-19 Social Justice Statement, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference wrote, “Housing is fundamental to the wellbeing and equal opportunity of every citizen. Social exclusion is inevitable where secure and affordable housing is lacking.”

“Everyone deserves a place to call home,” the statement concluded.

With nowhere to go, Elissia was terrified of the future. She knew she had to find help to avoid homelessness.

“That period wasn’t fun – I was very stressed,” Elissia said.

“In the end, Ava is the reason why I asked for help.”

Hunter Community Housing seeks to provide crucial housing and additional support to people in need.

Having learned of Hunter Community Housing (HCH) via CatholicCare, Elissia reached out to HCH General Operations Manager, Jessica Bentley, for help.

“I remember I turned to Jess and I was crying and holding Ava on my hip thinking what on earth am I going to do,” Elissia said.

“Jess has been so helpful. She advocated for me and helped me find a house. She’s given me updates every step of the way and that support has been a huge help.”

Jessica said the evidence is clear - stable housing plays a critical role in helping people in all areas of their lives.

Springing into action, Jessica worked with Elissia to find a tenancy and sign a lease with community partner, CatholicCare.

Often one of the barriers to entering the rental market, aside from sky rocketing rents, is rental history.

“Many of the young people we support get overlooked. So in the case of Elissia, we advocated for her with our community partner who had a property available,” Jessica said.

“What’s important is she’s paying market rent and signed the lease with the landlord like any other rental process, giving her that rental history.”

Jessica said there was no question Elissia was a hard worker who knew what she needed to do, but she needed some support to get there.

“There were certainly some odds stacked against her. Many government funding programs can be complex and not all options were available based on her circumstances so we had to think a bit outside the box. But it’s really working,” she said.

Having somewhere stable for her and her daughter to live has seen Elissia go from strength to strength.

“Secure housing is the difference; she’s set herself up now and I have no doubt she can do whatever she wants to do,” Jessica said.

Elissia agrees the stability had made a huge difference in her life.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to move again in the next 12 months,” she laughs.

“I know where I am and my surroundings. I want to keep working where I am and it’s so nice to not have that uncertainty of where I might be. Ava is in childcare and really settled so it’s helped in so many ways.”

Follow on Facebook.

Other Aurora Issues