As part of National Homelessness Week 2018 (6-12 August), Access Housing spoke with Josh – one of our tenants participating in Ruah’s 50 Lives 50 Homes program – and his support worker, Garry, to discuss Josh’s lived experience of homelessness.
Access Housing has been a proud partner in the 50 Lives 50 Homes initiative since its launch in 2015. The program sees partner organisations work collaboratively to permanently house and adequately support homeless people who are identified as being the most vulnerable based on their physical and/or mental health needs and the length of time they have been homeless.
After cycling in and out of homelessness over 20 years, Josh signed up to participate in the 50 Lives 50 Homes program and moved from sleeping rough in the city into an Access Housing property in the suburbs. He said the wrap around support he received through his transition from homelessness to secure and stable housing had helped him find stability.
Now that he is in his new home, Josh said he was motivated to help others and is excited for what the future brings.
“My experiences have definitely given me even more enthusiasm to get behind the homeless and help prevent homelessness,” Josh said.
“I’m trying to put all the help I have been getting back into the community. I feel like I can succeed working with Garry and doing positive things with Access Housing.
“It has given me my purpose back and I’m positive about my situation.”
Josh built significant first-hand knowledge of the systems supporting the homeless in the Perth CBD and developed a vast network of support people during his time on the streets. Once he was settled in his new home provided by Access Housing, he was able to recognise where support was lacking for homeless people in his new neighbourhood and provided Garry with a picture of the problem from a different perspective.
Garry said Josh’s knowledge had been paramount in helping drive collaboration to better understand and address homelessness in his new local community.
“Josh has introduced me to a huge network. We have crossed and cut through barriers, and we have so much potential in the future that I see,” Garry said.
Josh and Garry are breaking down barriers between the homeless and the services that support and house them by leveraging Josh’s wealth of knowledge and experience from his time on the streets. Both are passionate in their belief that housing stability is about more than ‘a roof and walls’ – it’s about making sure people are well supported and feel part of their community. This is an attitude shared by Access Housing and key to the 50 Lives 50 Homes program.
Garry’s work with, and support of, Josh sees him renew his relationship with Access Housing after previously being one of our highly valued tenants.
“My wife and I had been tenants for a long long time and with a little bit of encouragement from Access Housing we sought to buy our own home,” Garry said.
“We are now proud owners of a nice house – and now I’m back again as a support worker for Josh.”