Helen didn’t classify herself as ‘homeless’ because she wasn’t sleeping rough. Now she knows the term applies to all sorts of precarious housing arrangements like couch-surfing, rooming houses, and overcrowded conditions. Helen had terrible experiences, like walking around Flinders Street Station all night with nowhere else to go and living for years in an insecure room opening off a central corridor in a low rent building. She was hemmed in by all the mental health issues and violence around her. Nothing was hers and she lived in fear. Helen now lives in a WPI home in Coburg. Secure and permanent housing has had a profoundly positive impact after years of stress and trauma.
“My home is bright and new. I have privacy, a living area, bedroom, and balcony,” she says. “I can invite people over and be proud. At first, Coburg was strange, but now I love it. I’m strong and independent. I know where to get help if I need it. It’s given me the confidence to use my experience to help other people in a similar situation. I try to help connect them with services and programs that can help them build resilience and independence.”