Tipping points into homelessness: single mother, car breaks down

Throughout Anti-Poverty Week (16-22 October 2016) we are rolling out a series of vignettes and infographics of people who find themselves on the edge of homelessness when the high cost of housing collides with the ‘tipping point’ of an unexpected life event. Subscribe to eNews to get these updates delivered direct to your inbox.


Case Study #1: Single mother in housing stress

Janette is a 35-year-old single woman with one child, Hayden, aged 4. She works around 15 hours per week in retail and cannot take on more hours because she is the sole carer for her child. Janette also checks on her mother three afternoons per week, because she has early onset dementia. Janette takes home around $265.50 per week from her job. 

Janette and her children are living in a two-bedroom private rental in St Albans, 25km from the CBD. She is paying $286 per week for the house, which she and Hayden have been in for 18 months, since the breakdown of her marriage.

Hayden goes to a local childcare centre, his third in two years. Hayden was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and Janette is extremely happy with the support he is getting at the new centre so she is keen to keep him there. Hayden’s medical costs are $30 per week.

When Janette started her current job the store was around the corner from her home. However, the store closed recently and she now has to work at the Woodgrove Shopping Centre store which is 25km from her home where previously she could walk. This amounts to an extra $40 per week in petrol.

Janette is also time poor, meaning she and Hayden often eat frozen meals or takeaway, so she spends approximately $200 per week on food. Her mobile phone is another cost at around $10 per week, as she needs to be contactable at all times due to Hayden’s ADHD and her mother’s deteriorating health.

Last week Janette’s car broke down and the quote to get it fixed was $1600. Janette needs the car to get to work, take Hayden to childcare and visit her mother because the area they live in is poorly serviced by public transport.

Income: $783.70

Expenses: $656

Salary: $265.50

Rent: $286

Rent Assistance: $76.65

Car loan: $40

FBT A: $107.20

Petrol: $40

FBT B: $86.20

Mobile phone: $10

Part parenting payment: $248.15

Food: $200


Childcare costs: $15

Difference: $127.70

Utilities: $35

Medical costs: $30