Supporting people at risk of homelessness

She calls out to the man on the street
'Sir, can you help me?
It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell me?'
He walks on, doesn't look back
He pretends he can't hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there

Oh think twice, it's another day for you and me in paradise
Oh think twice, 'cause it's just another day for you,
You and me in paradise, think about it…

Songwriters: Phillip David Charles Collins (‘Phil Collins’) / Willie Norwood

Phil Collins wrote the song “Another Day in Paradise” in 1989 about a man crossing the street to ignore a homeless woman who was asking for help. Sadly, some 29 years later, this same scenario still exists but with even more people experiencing homelessness.

Churches of Christ Housing Services actively supports people to avoid or exit homelessness through a range of accommodation support services.

For many of us, having a secure home is a simple aspect of life that we take for granted. A place to call home is a guarantee. But for a growing number of people, it is a lost reality.

When our housing residents were asked “what difference has a secure home made to your life” some of the responses included:

“Prevented my suicide; given my son stability.”

“I was homeless, but now I am secure. I eat what I want to eat in my house and no-one can take it off me. I feel better in the family of Christ…”

“It has changed my life tremendously. With less worry of housing, I have focused on furthering my education. Have earned a graduate diploma in Counselling and am very grateful.”

It is remarkable how much having a place to call home impacts a person’s life.

Out of homelessness

Churches of Christ Housing Services resident, Sharon found herself homeless in middle age.  She describes her journey from ‘homelessness, to getting a house and making that a home’ and the part that art has played in that journey.

“As a woman on my own, it was probably one of the most crushing experiences… with no one to nurture or support me.”

Sharon was able to find a home seven years ago with Churches of Christ Housing Services.

“Once I closed my door [on my new home] I was safe.”

As her confidence grew with having her own home, she started buying painting supplies and getting back into her art.

One day, she was approached to do a painting for the new Housing Services office opening in Southport.  Sharon talks of this time as a “turning point” and says that she felt that she was finally safe, “I felt my housing wasn’t insecure anymore.”

“I started appreciating myself. I wasn’t frightened anymore. I can paint because I have a home… I can leave it out if I want to. I don’t have to share and worry about someone coming into my home.”

From house to a home

Graham Wheat, a Community Chaplain working across our Gold Coast housing developments, sees first-hand each day the impact having a home can have on an individual who has experienced homelessness.

“As a Housing Chaplain, I have the privilege of guiding our tenants as they journey from house to home. I see first-hand how securing a safe, secure place to live is the starting point to a better future for many. I am blessed in my role, to be able to listen, guide and enable our tenants as they travel on that journey,” Graham said.

Graham tells the story of a resident couple who had moved into a new home, and after two months had still not unpacked their boxes. When he asked why they had not unpacked, they said that they still thought someone was going to knock on their door one day and let them know that it was a mistake, that they were not meant to be living in this nice place and that they would have to leave.

Graham was able to assure them that they were meant to be there and to make themselves at home.

A house is not a home

The difference between a house and a home is a subtle one, recognised by few.  A house is an empty vessel and only comes alive with people. A home is where we throw down our roots, investing money as well as time, energy and emotion. Homes register the patterns of life. If we are lucky our children are born in them and luckier still we end our days in them.  Homes offer us security, a place where we can socialise, celebrate, argue, do homework, cook, care and create. They are the focus of friendships and many homes make a neighbourhood.

From Hawkins Brown research, A house is not a home

Churches of Christ Housing Services

Churches of Christ Housing Services is a leading provider of housing solutions for people in need. We manage a portfolio of more than 1,300 properties across Queensland. We are one of the most diverse housing services, providing property and tenancy management, specialist support services, community development, asset management and affordable housing development.

In 2017, we assisted 3,118 people to find a home or a place to stay in their time of need.

We were also able to help people transition out of social housing and into the private rental market. We take a holistic approach to delivering housing services, providing for people’s physical and recognising that it is equally important to provide for social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.

For more information, read our Housing Services Year in Review 2017.

Find more information regarding Homelessness Week 2018 at Homelessness Australia. 

Posted August 7, 2018 in Our blog