21 Jul 2022

From the anxiety of homelessness to healing, hope and a bright future

Social housing
Tannaya’s story shows us how having a safe and secure home with personalised support can change a person’s life, improve their self-worth and help them break addictive cycles.

We met Tannaya last year, when we commenced management of The Terrace in North Ipswich, a new development built by the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy. Through a Street to Home referral and allocation process, 12 of the 30 applications were identified as requiring personalised intensive tenancy support.

In order to personalise the tenancy support to the 12 clients, we developed a Wellbeing Assessment to be used during interviews with them. Through this process we discovered Tannaya had a history of trauma and domestic violence, leaving her self-esteem and confidence at a desperate low. Compounding this, she had constant high anxiety while she was experiencing homelessness. 

“The whole time I was moving around I was drinking in order to cope,” Tannaya said

“When I first moved in [to The Terraces], I didn’t want to leave my apartment, I wasn’t eating properly and deep down inside I felt so alone. The only reasons I would leave my apartment were to go to the hospital or go see [Housing Officers] Michelle and Jodie,” she said.

Housing Officers Michelle and Jodie facilitated the bulk of the intensive tenancy support with the residents to help them overcome barriers.

“The Street to Home clients came with many tenancy and life barriers. I helped them to make plans, goals and identify actions for overcoming those barriers and achieving their goals,” Jodie said.

After just six months of intensive tenancy support, both Jodie and Michelle say they have seen a dramatic improvement in Tannaya’s self-esteem and wellbeing.

“She needed people to tell her: ‘You can do it!’ and so that’s what I did,” Jodie said. 

Tannaya shared that our whole team of staff, which included Chaplain Dave and Community Engagement Coordinator Sue, made her feel a part of an enduring community, taught her she was not alone and that the pathway to reaching life’s full potential was simply made up of small positive changes.

She said they helped her “re-evaluate” why she was making destructive choices and gave her practical encouragement to get outdoors, exercise and eat better. It wasn’t all words either, she said, they also went out of their way to give practical help. She gave the examples of when Sue helped her with her resume and Dave offered to drive to her last place of residence in order to move her belongings to The Terrace. 

“After following their advice, I saw that I had more energy and my mental health had improved,” she said.

“I’m really glad I met them, it’s put a whole different perspective on my life.”

Having a Housing Officer on-site five days a week was key to the success of implementing intensive tenancy support by providing a ‘pop-in’ style opportunity for connection. 

“Because Tannaya was able to drop down to say hello whenever she needed, we were able to continually encourage her,” Michelle said.

“Even though they understood my past, Michelle and Jodie didn’t judge me. They made me feel welcome. They made me feel human,” Tannaya said.

The intensive tenancy support also involves connecting residents to external experts specialising in psychological, alcohol addiction, and medical support. 

“Every single help I could possibly get, I took,” said Tannaya.