Homelessness, regardless of who it happens to, is underpinned by poverty. When your financial resources are gone it can be easy to forget about other things, like what rights you have – after all, when you don’t have the resources to enforce them, they can seem irrelevant. In Victoria we are fortunate enough to be the only state in Australia to have a homelessness advocate, who runs the Homelessness Advocacy Service (HAS). HAS can help consumers who are being assisted by a homelessness service, living in social or community run housing with things including advice on a situation, to providing information on rights or helping with misunderstandings. These are just a few examples of recent HAS cases:
Case study: elderly asylum seeker couple
An elderly couple became homeless after their daughter evicted them from her home. As asylum seekers they had no income, and were ineligible for assistance from a number of services because of the status of their refugee claim. HAS intervened and found temporary accommodation for the couple in a motel and then a rooming house until more suitable accommodation could be found.
Case study: young single mother
A young mother and her baby were staying in a crisis accommodation unit. After a point they were told they had to leave the service because they needed the room. They were moved to another area away from their community, where it wasn’t possible to access Halal food or attend a mosque. Further, she feared racism and being away from her community and people she knew. After some negotiation, she and her baby were moved to another place closer to her community and where her cultural needs could be met.
Case study: not enough evidence
A woman and her partner were living in a rooming house and given an immediate notice to vacate with accusations of drug dealing. The client told the HAS advocate that she hadn’t been approached prior to getting the notice. The HAS advocate established that there wasn’t sufficient evidence of this activity, and the notice to vacate was withdrawn.
Case study: inappropriate living conditions
A young woman and her two children, who were homeless due to family violence, were placed in shared accommodation. The landlord subdivided the room they were living in and the house became overcrowded. The woman complained to the housing agency about the conditions. Soon after she was assaulted by another resident who was under the influence of illicit drugs. HAS and the agency made a referral to a crisis centre, where the woman and her children were placed in transitional housing.
These are just a few examples of the work HAS can do. If you would like more information on HAS visit our website.