Sunshine in my shadows

Welcome to sunshine in my shadows. This blog is my space to share all the stuff that makes up my every day life. Family, friends, crafts, recipes, books and all the little things that add 'sunshine to my shadows'. We all have a sprinkling of sunshine and an equal sprinkling of shadows in our lives. Hopefully you will find more sunshine than shadows to read about here and on the days when shadows fall, know that the sunshine is peeking just around the corner!


Friday, August 5, 2011

It couldn't happen to me....

                                                                                              **photo from here.

How often do we all say this to ourselves about various things? In this particular instance I'm speaking of homelessness. I remember reading once that most of us are only a week's wage away from being homeless. ONE week! Scary isn't it?

The reality of how easily one can become homeless has struck a chord with me in recent weeks. I have a very good friend who faces that very real possibility in the next few weeks. My friend has been a sole parent for some time. She has three children at home, a 16 year old daughter and twins, a boy and a girl aged 14. Her youngest daughter has a severe disability. The elder kids attend the local High School and the younger daughter attends special school. My friend has worked casual jobs from time to time but has found regular employment evasive as she is only available between school hours and if any of the kids are sick has to take time off to care for them. (I'm sure many working parents can relate)

Unfortunately my friend does not have family support available nearby. She has been a good tenant, renting her current home for the last 9 years. Out of the blue 6 weeks ago she received a notice to vacate the premises. She had 30 days to find somewhere else to live.(her landlord wants to do extensive renovations) Rental properties are in short supply in our local area and her limited income means many places are out of her price range. On applying my friend received a 2 week extension to the time she had to find a new place. So far she has applied for several properties but been knocked back each time. It is very frustrating for her. She is FAST running out of time.(We believe she may be being discriminated against because she is a welfare recipient )

On inquiring at many local agencies about assistance she was told until she IS homeless they cannot help her. (even then there are waiting times/queues for assistance) She has applied for ministry housing but was told there is at least a three year wait. This week she received a notice to say she is expected to be out by next week. There is a hearing before a tribunal next week and IF she is lucky she may get a little extra time. If not....she and her children will be homeless!

In the meantime she is running around doing all the regular mum stuff, caring for her kids, taking the kids to their after school and weekend activities etc as well as trying to find a new home.(she has even looked at suburbs further away from her current home and the children's school etc) I am stressed for her, I can't imagine how she must be feeling! On asking at one agency what she is supposed to do if she can't find anywhere they told her she would have to find a caravan park, stay in a hotel or live in her car!!!! Can you believe that? I know that some people do (even temporarily) but what the heck is she supposed to do with all their furniture and belongings? Who really wants to live in any of those places with 3 teenage kids?The mind really does boggle.

I am praying my girlfriend finds a new place for her and her children. It really makes you think twice about that assumption ....It couldn't happen to me!

wishing you sunshine in your shadows


  1. Certainly shadows there for your friend Helen. Having worked in the field at Salvation Army - I know how difficult housing is and how stressful it can be. There are more people living in their cars that we realize. It is a very difficult time - I hope and pray that something comes up for your friend.

    Love and hugs,

  2. Hope she finds something soon Helen.Has she applied for commision housing?I am sure there must be someone that can help with getting people emergency housing.
    Another reason why I hate having the renting thing over my head.

  3. That's a very frightening story Helen, l can see where you would be stressed for your friend and let's just hope and pray for a positive resolution. Please keep us posted, l'd really like to know how it pans out. Fancy that (idiot)agency suggesting they sleep in the car. Surely with a NINE year history of excellent tenancy someone will see reason.

  4. Thank you Linda. I know there is a terrible shortage of low cost housing and the homeless problem continues to grow.The sad thing is so many people are totally ignorant and unaware of how big the problem is.I continue to pray my friend does not join the 'invisible' homeless among us.

    Thanks Nelly. What I called ministry housing in my post is housing commission so yes she has applied but the waiting list is 2 and a half to 3 years. Emergency housing in our area is in crisis. There are often stories in the local newspapers about it.People are put into emergency housing for 3 nights and they often have to go back on the streets or back to their cars again until they are back to the top of the priority list.(that is my understanding) There just isn't enough emergency accommodation available for the numbers of people that need it. There isn't enough public housing for the need. It's shameful and a disgrace but that's how it is.Naturally and understandably they also use a priority system.

    Bron thanks for caring. It is scary! It also makes me sad to think of the many people who are in similar and worse situations. We often see stories about the homeless in overseas countries and it makes me ashamed that we close our eyes to the same problem in our own backyard.Too many people in our society are ready to lay the blame on victims of circumstance and none of us knows where our lives might take us.I won't start about the incredible amounts of money wasted by our politicians that could be put to much better use!

  5. I have always counted myself as one of the lucky people, in that I've had a secure loving childhood, and after one short bad marriage I've been married to Hubby No.2 for 32 years, and we own our own house. It breaks my heart to hear of people like your friend, and I get so furious when I think of the wealthy people who own and rent out extra homes, then snatch them away from the tenants on a whim. I was talking to a friend about this recently, and he said that in recent years tenant laws have changed in favour of the tenants, and landlords cannot just turn tenants out on the street in a given timeframe. They must have somewhere else to live before eviction takes place. It would be a good idea for your friend to seek some legal advice (free Legal Aid) to see whether or not my friend is right.

  6. Thanks Gina I said to my friend I cannot imagine any court is going to turn her and 3 children out onto the street especially as she has proof of applying for several new places to live.Tomorrow there is a hearing at a VCAT tribunal and a worker from there will be accompanying my friend and I assume speak on her behalf if necessary. The worker said she may possibly get another extension. I hope so! The landlord claims he has tradespeople booked to begin renovations on the 15th. My friend understands that her landlord wants to renovate and is within his rights to ask her to move (even if it was out of the blue and a shock)but it seems incredible that anyone would expect a mother with 3 children, one with a disability to leave without having somewhere else to go.If the crunch comes then she should be able to get assistance from someone I imagine.