Homeless not Hopeless
The public perception of the homeless is of an old man in a shabby overcoat lying on a park bench clutching a bottle of sherry in a brown paper bag, but the reality could not be further from the truth. In Australia today, on any one night, 105,000 people are homeless. Of these 46,000 are women and 63,000 are aged 34 years or less with 18,000 children under 12. The main causes of homelessness are domestic violence and relationship issues; access to safe affordable accommodation; financial stress usually related to unemployment; young people exiting state care or custody; mental health, drug and alcohol issues.
People with these problems find themselves with nowhere to live. State and charitable resources are often inadequate; the homeless can be sent to boarding houses and cheap motels where the conditions may be unsafe, uncomfortable and insanitary. There are stories of women and their children living in a car for years, this being seen by them as preferable. The consequences are that they have neither time nor opportunity to change the situation, and suffer a lack of self-esteem, which can lead to alcohol or drug addiction - a downhill spiral.
Ten years ago James Pullar and his colleagues at the Rotary Club of Melbourne consulted the leaders of fifteen homeless service providers and former homeless people in the Melbourne CBD to learn about the key issues facing Melbourne’s homeless. From those discussions they identified five key issues: a shortage of safe, affordable housing; the need to break the cycle of homelessness; change perceptions and raise the awareness of homelessness; improve access to services and entitlements and overcome discrimination.
Using these issues as their guiding principles, James and his team collaborated with The Big Issue, HomeGround Services and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence on a variety of projects to make a difference to the homeless and to engage the members of the club and increase their understanding of the issue.
One of these projects is Housing First – a campaign to encourage private rental investment property landlords to make their properties available for affordable housing
The Housing First campaign aims to provide accommodation at below market rents that give people a home base from which to rebuild their lives. This has been achieved by collaborating with HomeGround Real Estate, Australia’s first not-for-profit real estate company that focuses on providing rental accommodation for the homeless, and encouraging private landlords to offer their rental properties for this purpose.
James Pullar has been at pains to ensure that the projects Rotary gets involved in deliver outcomes that address the need for more affordable accommodation, break the cycle of homelessness, change community perceptions, improve access to facilities and services and overcome discrimination.
By participating in the Housing First project, by offering your rental property you can improve others’ lives. Help them reconnect with society. They are homeless not hopeless.
Do you hold the key? Contact James Pullar now on 0417 574 941 to discuss how you can help.