300 rental applications, 25 inspections…one offer.

In 2020, Emma was renting a property that was barely liveable. A mice infestation meant she couldn’t store food in the kitchen cupboards, the bathroom roof was covered in mould due to a lack of built-in ventilation and a retaining wall next door threatened to collapse on the property at any minute.

“They were continuously putting the rent up and not fixing anything that should have been fixed…the house was falling apart,” she said.

On top of this, Emma had been suffering from poor mental health which meant she found it nearly impossible to leave the house.

“I was barricading. And you don’t realize in your head, okay something’s really, really wrong until the doctor tells you.”

Emma had to give up work and had been barely surviving on Centrelink…spending an average of $5 a day on food.

Luckily, she finally got the mental health support she needed and, with this, the energy to improve her housing situation. She had a perfect rental history, a number of references, and was not fussy about an ‘ideal’ property. But securing a property turned out to be a nearly impossible feat during lockdown mid-2020.

Launch Housing’s Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) team witnessed a spike in demand for support through 2020, where renters were downshifting to cheaper properties as work became more precarious. It caused a squeeze in the availability overall of affordable properties. Emma was struggling to compete on her Centrelink income.

“It was a big shock being knocked back for every single house…What was I going to do? I’m not going to have anywhere to live…it’s just another kick in the guts.”

Launch Housing connected Emma with a PRAP caseworker who supported her search for a new home. Debbie helped Emma complete her rental applications and advocated on her behalf with real estate agents – vital to helping Emma’s application stand out amongst others.

“I reached out to Launch Housing a couple months before my lease was up. I was finding the houses and Launch Housing was helping me apply for them. I did three hundred applications, attended 20 inspections and finally got the house I’m in now.”

When Emma finally got the offer of a rental, Debbie also arranged the first month’s rent for her new home.

“I can’t express how much of a massive relief that was. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a lot.”

Since moving into her new place, Emma was able to gain employment as a Mental Health Support Worker and is working 15-20 hours per week while she finishes her practical placement.

“It feels good. It feels like I’m doing the job I’m meant to be doing. I wouldn’t have been in the right place mentally to even apply for this job if I didn’t have Launch Housing help me to find a house. Trying to find house and trying and find a roof over your head, just takes over everything.

“My bosses have told me I’m doing a great job and that I’ve gone above and beyond for my clients. I’m actually trying to find one of my clients a house at the moment as well,” she said.

Emma Blog