Homeless services take to streets

Homelessness services are taking to the streets this week to spread the word about how they can help reduce the risk 

Forbes’ homeless population is “invisible” but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue, Ellysa Cunningham from CatholicCare’s specialist homelessness service said.

Last year they helped 111 people, from children through to aged pensioners, who came in needing a safe place to stay.

Everyone’s story is different, but domestic violence is one of the more common causes 

It’s not uncommon, though, for people just to get behind on rent or bills and need help to get that sorted out. 

The CatholicCare team urge people to get in touch with them as soon as they realise the bills are piling up or they won’t be able to pay the rent this week (or the next) rather than wait for an eviction notice. 

“At the moment we are getting more people who are getting behind on their rent and bills,” Ellysa said.

“We try to intervene, so come and see us early.”

The team can help identify what’s going on, assist with safety planning in domestic violence situations, advise and advocate with Department of Housing. 

They do place people in emergency accommodation and help them find longer term solutions. 

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Through their partnerships with local charities such as St Vincent de Paul they also help settle people in a new home with basic furnishings. 

“We have very strong partnerships with St Vincent de Paul, Centrelink, Department of Housing and Binaal Billa,” Ellys said. 

“We rely on all those partnership as we try to address all the issues (that lead to homelessness).”

Homeless doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping rough, Ellysa said.

“The definition we are given is someone who doesn’t have their own bed or their own room,” she said.

“The majority are couch surfing, or if a mum and two kids are sharing a bed in a spare room at someone else’s house technically two of them are homeless.” 

Representatives from CatholicCare, St Vincent de Paul, Centrelink, Department of Housing and Binaal Billa were in Victoria Park yesterday and head to Jenny Murphy Park today.

They’re available for a chat and are serving up some delicious hot soups. 

“A lot of people are afraid to ask questions early, but then things snowball,” Ellysa said.

“When it comes to your tenancy, your safe place to stay, no question is silly.”

You can also contact CatholicCare at the office in Lachlan Street in person or on 6850 1777 and ask to speak with the SHS team.

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