“I’ve changed my opinion of homelessness, I’m not proud of myself for having negative thoughts of the homeless…I have a different attitude now.”
Eight years ago Di had a responsible job as an accountant, a house that she owned and, although her marriage had broken down, a good relationship with her ex-husband and children.
After a series of unfortunate events including a failed business venture and a disagreement with the ATO (which Di is pleased to say was resolved) Di lost her house and found herself living with her parents.
Di lived with her parents for over a year, during this time she was mindful of the stress this placed on them. Taking matters in hand she searched ‘housing for women’ on the internet. Di soon became a tenant with Women’s Housing Ltd (WHL) in the Brighton rooming house. She was happy with the area, the location was close to public transport and she found a new job…things were changing for Di!
Di had previously owned and lived in a four bedroom house with two lounge areas. The rooming house consisted of a room with shared kitchen facilities and a common lounge area. She had never rented before and didn’t know what to expect. Even though Di maintained good relationships with her neighbours she found living in a rooming house tiring and challenging. She was very aware of the different opinions within the rooming house and while she didn’t necessarily agree with other tenants’ lifestyles and values she continued to be respectful and understanding, which can sometimes be difficult when neighbours are knocking on your door late at night. Di was on a huge learning curve.
Around this time Di’s health started to suffer. The stress was getting to her. Medical expenses were high and morale was low. She was frustrated by people judging her position. “Walk in my shoes $224 a week is just not enough when paying rent. Centrelink is poverty”. She never expected to be in this situation, living one day to the next, dealing with Centrelink, struggling to buy stockings for a job interview.
“How did this happen?” Di calls herself the poor middleclass. She explains this as ‘coming from a good family but fallen on bad times in my 50s’.
Di felt isolated and alone but she persevered. She was proactive and learned to live thrifty, got a good doctor and took advantage of all available opportunities. She cultivated compassion, empathy, motivation and enthusiasm.
The Brighton rooming house was home to Di for 2.5 years before a community housing property at Bentleigh became available. Bentleigh provided Di with a home, space and privacy, finally Di had a stable environment and she was able to work on improving her health. Di has developed supportive relationships with her neighbours at Bentleigh and feels part of a strong community.
Through WHL Di has had the opportunity to be part of the Money For Jam project, has participated in Blue Chip Minds workshops and is currently a member of the Women’s Advisory Group (WAG). Her contribution is valued by WHL and the other tenants involved.
“While I have the time I’ll make the time to contribute.”
The support and empathy of Women’s Housing Ltd has helped Di get back on her feet. She is grateful for what she has and feels fortunate for the help WHL have provided.
“I would love to know that the directors get to read this, I want them to know how Women’s Housing Ltd has changed my life. I’m extremely grateful for the extra assistance the staff has provided me over the years it has given me back a good quality of life.”
Di hopes that sharing her story may help women experiencing the same path realise that they are not alone or the only one going through it. She understands how isolating life can be.
WHL would like to thank Di for sharing her experiences, time and insights and we hope that her story will give other women strength to connect with people and support services and encourage them to never give up.