At BaptistCare HopeStreet, we’re currently witnessing many families and individuals displaced by housing insecurity, rising rent, and increased cost of living.
The consumer price index is 7.3% higher than September last year1, and house rents up 10.6% over the same timeframe2.
We’re seeing greater demand on our vital food services – nutritious meals, low-cost groceries, and crisis food packs – across New South Wales, as people struggle to pay bills, buy fuel, and afford food in the lead up to Christmas.
It's not by choice that this will be the first Christmas in 27 years that Graeme* and his son, David*, who lives with a disability, won’t be under the same roof.
“I’ve raised David as a single parent since he was six months old. He’s a great kid; everyone says that. I’ve done the best I could anyway. The idea was to let him grow up in the same house, so it really felt like he had a home. I didn’t want to be moving every 12 months,” said Graeme.
Earlier this year, everything changed when their landlord of 20 years accused Graeme of rent monies missing over many years. The sum was in the thousands. After speaking to a solicitor, and armed with bank statements, Graeme was determined to negotiate their living situation, until he discovered the owner’s intention to sell.
“It was easier to leave, but it cost us a lot. The owner just wanted us out. And I get that, and that’s fine, but then when I asked for a reference, he said ‘No’. It was impossible to get a house, let alone one without a rental history. Housing wouldn’t help us as we didn’t have eviction notices.”
“I was concerned we’d be homeless. We were pretty close at one point. I don’t have any family we can go to. It caused a lot of anxiety. I knew once I got David settled, I could worry about myself. He needs that for his mental health. But mine is not the best either.”
HopeStreet Manager, Josephine and our team were able to come alongside the father and son offering food support, rental referral letters, housing options, and linking them with services so they could have more opportunity in life.
David now visits HopeStreet daily, having settled in hostel-style accommodation close-by. “Josephine was a huge help in looking for somewhere for me to go to. It was a rush to get me into somewhere. It kind of stopped Dad from stressing. It’s a parent-thing - Dad makes sure his kid is alright before taking care of himself,” said David.
“I’m an introvert, so it’s nice to have a meal at HopeStreet. I don’t have to worry about that one meal in my day.”
HopeStreet has become a safe and welcoming space, providing emotional support particularly when they had to give up their beloved pet cat. “That was the hardest thing out of all of this,” said David.
Graeme says they are working to get back under the same roof, it will just take time. “David is fully aware of his challenges; he just does the best he can. We both also have mental health issues with anxiety and depression.”
“We’re welcome at HopeStreet. I come every week to have breakfast with my son and have a chat. They really help David. He’s comfortable here, he enjoys coming here.”
“It’s good knowing he’s okay. If I’m working and can’t really help him, Josephine’s able to guide him in the right direction.”
Despite working full-time, Graeme – like so many others - is currently living pay cheque to pay cheque.
“I don’t have much left over once I pay all the bills. I’m not even working to save - I’m working to stay afloat. It sucks to be in that boat, but there are a lot of us in it.”
We continue to save a seat at the table for Graeme and David and others just like them. Will you give generously so we can continue to provide food and hope to families and individuals this Christmas.
1Australian Bureau of Statistics, Sept 2022
2 Sydney Morning Herald, K. Burke, Oct 14, 2022
*Names have been changed. Images are for illustration purposes.