The experience of homelessness was completely unexpected for Kelly, a mother of five. Initially from Queensland, Kelly, her husband, and children moved to Melbourne in 2015 into a small granny-flat, until they were unable to continue paying the rent on a single low income.
They were unable to secure a lease due to their unstable employment and were spending about $770 to $1100 a week on motels just to survive. The situation was not sustainable.
In between motel stays, Kelly often found herself living out of her car, which was becoming increasingly difficult with several young children. “[People] don’t care if you need petrol for your car, because as far as homelessness is concerned, [they think] ‘wow you got a car, that’s called luxury’. I could not believe that someone said that to me… some of them were laughing at me because my husband was still working.”
As their experience of homelessness intensified, her relationship with her partner came to an end. Kelly was forced to find other means to protect and care for her young children, as living in motels was becoming increasingly dangerous. Kelly says she was often frightened and concerned for the wellbeing of her children.
“I heard a noise one night and I [saw] an argument, and two days later they removed a lady’s body. It was very overwhelming.”
Kelly wanted to secure a stable home to bring up her young children, so she came to Launch Housing in 2016. She worked closely with a support worker and secured temporary transitional housing.
Eventually a vacancy for long-term permanent housing came up for Kelly and her kids. By taking this opportunity, she was able to introduce her children into a kindergarten program and create a sense of normality for her kids. Most importantly, Kelly finds that having a roof over her head, which she describes as “gold”, has relieved a lot of her stress and welfare concerns, such as income, a place to sleep, and safety.
“When you’re on the other side of the fence… you try and think better things. Until you’re on the other side of the fence, you don’t know. Of course I never in a million years would’ve thought that would’ve happened to me,” she said.
As her children are nearly old enough to start school, Kelly explains that she is eager to get a job and contribute to the community.
“I’m what you call a Jill-of-all-trades. You normally hear Jack-of-all-trades, but I’m Jill.”
Eventually, Kelly has aspirations of buying her own plot of land.