Young Family Homelessness
Vulnerable Children & Young People
Tarryn: Waiting for a place to call home…
Talking with Tarryn reminds us that homelessness is more than just not having a roof over your head. Homelessness is not having a home…
I was close to my family until I was 17 when I had a big fight with them. My girlfriend was there and she was like, ‘Just come and stay with me.’ That was okay for a little while but you don’t expect it to go on and on. I stayed with her family and I was sleeping on the lounge. It ended up ruining our friendship and that’s my biggest regret.
I never had to sleep outside. I was able to get emergency accommodation : that’s like staying in a motel room for a night until you can get something else. The motels were pretty scary. You find your way there and check in at 4:00 in the afternoon and then, well, you just sit there. It’s not nice being by yourself in a new place. It’s lonely. You can only stay for a couple of nights and then you move on: you don’t know where you’re going to be next.
Making food is hard. You can’t go out to the supermarket and buy bread and stuff because usually there’s no toasters and there’s no fridges. And when you leave the next day you have to carry everything with you. You have to buy cooked food and that’s expensive. I remember one night I was at a motel in a suburb that I didn’t know. There was nothing close by, nothing. I think it was 800 metres to the nearest shop and I remember I wanted dinner and I was going to have to walk there by myself. That was really scary. I will never forget that.
The Drum [UnitingCare Burnside Youth Homelessness service in Campbelltown] helped me find a temporary accommodation unit which was a lot better. With temporary, you sign a new lease every week and you can do that for twelve weeks. (That’s the limit.) While you’re getting that, the Department of Housing regulations make you go out every day and look for houses or flats on the private market. Problem was that because I’m on Centrelink, my income is not enough, would never be enough, for private housing. But you have to go and look at these houses and you just keep going from one to the other and you know you can’t afford them. It wasn’t a good time.
During all that, I was pregnant with Khloe and Burnside were doing everything to help me find my own place before she came. It took a long time but now I’ve got this house and it’s permanent. Burnside helped me get furniture and things that you need to set up your place. I needed that because I lost all my possessions in those months of not having a home. I couldn’t put the stuff anywhere and you can’t carry it with you. When I moved out of home, I had about 5 different bags and now I can fit in all in like a school case.
These days I’m good: I only see the Drum about every two weeks to check in and make sure I don’t need anything. If I ever get stuck, I know they’ll help me out with vouchers for nappies or food. And I’m studying again. I’m doing Cert 3 of Business Administration and I’m doing it from home so I don’t have to give up time with Khloe
We are looking after each other. Now we’ve got a home together and we’re doing okay.
When people think of homelessness they usually imagine people sleeping rough. But Tarryn’s experience highlights the hidden homelessness of young people drifting through very basic motel accommodation, waiting to find somewhere where they can prepare a meal, have a bed of their own and care for their children.
If you think we should be doing more to assist young people like Tarryn, get involved with our advocacy community and support our work of homelessness.