Mum feels for lost underclass

The options on where to live are limited when you are homeless and a single male.
The options on where to live are limited when you are homeless and a single male.

A mother’s voice cracks many times with emotion as she talks about her son’s nightmare experience trying to find somewhere to live.

Cathy (not her real name) recently had a heartbreaking time trying to find her son a home.

Jail, at one stage, rather than living on the streets, was an option.

Her experience highlights the need for more affordable housing in the Shoalhaven.

Her son could not get anything in the private rental market and was told he would have to wait over 10-years to get a government home.

The Bay and Basin resident said her son’s biggest disadvantage was being a single male.

“I think the biggest problem and I don’t think it’s just in Nowra is that a single male has no chance of getting accommodation through a real estate agent or anywhere,” she said.

“If they are on their own and don't have a family or on a disability pension you might has well forget about applying for anything because their answer is no before people look at the circumstances.”

She said there are so many people looking for accommodation that owners and agents can pick and choose and they don’t want a single 42-year-old single man.

“It (being a single man) is a real underclass,” she said

Her son also has a mental illness which made things harder.

“He made himself sick with the stress and worry and was living hand to mouth,” she said

Her son’s mental illness does not prevent him from paying his rent or looking after his accommodation.

He was homeless for a month.

His parents did pay for him stay in a caravan park for a limited time but as pensioners this was not a long term affordable option.

Fortunately they were helped greatly by the team from the Shoalhaven Homeless Hub.

“When I went to the homeless hub I was very teary at that stage - I was frantic and sick with worry,” she said.

“I was crying all the time and did not know where to go to next and did not know what to do next.”

She said Julie from the hub took over straight away and gave them the help they needed.

“While I sat in the homeless hub I sat looking all these young men,”  and words fail her as she tries to contain her emotions.

“There is no hope for them,” she says in a voice broken up with emotion.

“I could tell a lot of them had mental health issues or low IQs and nobody was helping them – there was no mother with any of them and I was the only parent there.”

She said this type of situation just shouldn't happen.

“If we hadn't gone to the hub my son would be on the streets by now,” she said

Such was desperation he committed a crime, he smashed a car windscreen, and he was sent to jail rather than going back onto the streets.

He was in jail for a week as bail was refused because he did not have an address to give the authorities and also they sensed he had mental health issues and needed support.

“As a parent it’s just heartbreaking,” Cathy said.

He can’t live with his parents as they are in an over 55 facility and also for his and their mental health it’s better if they don’t live together on a long term basis.

She fears about her son’s future, particularly when she and her husband are not around to help.

“He would not know how to fill in paperwork and where to go to get help. How many other people are in a similar position?” she asks.

The good news is her son has a house now and has lived there for three weeks.

“I still can't believe how lucky we were to get this place,”she said.

She went with him to inspect the property, which was a help.

“I look at all these other young men and think ‘who is going to go with them’?” she asks.

She thinks her son’s new landlord is the type of person willing to give someone a chance and in tune with the fact that single men did not have many other options.

“He (the landlord) is one in a million,” she said

However, she fears a time when her son will go through the same thing again.

Having a pet was also a disadvantage for her son.

“It (the dog) is the thing that keeps him going and the dog is the reason he gets up in the morning and the reason he goes out because he walks her,” she said.

Cathy said trying to find a place for her son to live was the worst thing she’d ever been through.