Is­sues not far from home for Rox­anne

Canning Times - - HOMELESSNESS WEEK - Lisa Thomas

HOME­LESS­NESS is some­thing that Rox­anne Hil­lCurlie re­mem­bers all too well.

At 22, she be­came one of thou­sands fac­ing the prospect of liv­ing rough.

Now 29, a proud home­owner and work­ing as a Salvos store man­ager, she knows how easy it is to be­come home­less and wants to ed­u­cate peo­ple to show sup­port for any­one who finds them­selves in the un­de­sir­able cir­cum­stance.

Rox­anne moved to Perth from Broome in 2011 but af­ter not hav­ing her rental re­newed and un­able to find new ac­com­mo­da­tion quick enough, she and her best friend be­came home­less.

Af­ter a few days of couch surf­ing and sleep­ing in the car, they de­cided to squat in an un­used fish­ing shack.

“There was no power or run­ning water con­nected and it was 50m from the water of Cock­burn Sound, so it was ex­tremely cold dur­ing those win­ter months, but it was our safe haven,” she said.

“We would sleep in bed hud­dled to­gether wear­ing as many clothes as pos­si­ble; mul­ti­ple pants, jumpers and gloves, bean­ies and a scarf be­came our reg­u­lar py­ja­mas.”

Rox­anne be­gan vol­un­teer­ing at the Sal­va­tion Army store in Can­ning­ton as part of Work for the Dole and worked week­ends as a bar­maid. She and her friend shared sin­gle meals.

“We were for­tu­nate enough to have shel­ter, but with­out ac­cess to power or re­frig­er­a­tion it’s very dif­fi­cult to plan ac­cord­ingly and eat prop­erly,” she said.

“We were still look­ing for and ap­ply­ing to agen­cies to se­cure a rental prop­erty, but with no cur­rent ad­dress, min­i­mal or no rental ref­er­ences and mak­ing be­low min­i­mum wage, we never re­ally had a chance.”

Af­ter seven months of be­ing home­less, Rox­anne was hired as a ca­sual as­sis­tant with the Sal­va­tion Army and not long af­ter was able to se­cure a rental prop­erty.

“Be­ing home­less was tough but I was for­tu­nate to be home­less with my best friend, so we had each other for sup­port and com­pany,” she said.

“Af­ter months of ap­ply­ing for rentals and jobs it be­gan to get very de­mor­al­is­ing. It’s a vi­cious cy­cle – no one wants to hire you or rent to you when you’re home­less, but these are two things es­sen­tial to get­ting back on track.”

A year af­ter find­ing a rental Rox­anne was pro­moted to a store man­ager within the Sal­va­tion Army stores, knuck­led down for a year, saved money for a de­posit and bought a house with her sis­ter.

“Hav­ing some­where to live and be­ing em­ployed not only gave me a sense of di­rec­tion, but the abil­ity to en­sure I wouldn’t have to face home­less­ness again,” she said.

“I think there’s a lack of ed­u­ca­tion around home­less­ness. For those who meet some­one home­less – have com­pas­sion. Some­times all they might need is for some­one to take a chance on them.”

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son­mu­ni­ d485356

Salvos store man­ager Rox­anne Hill-Curlie has her own ex­pe­ri­ence of home­less­ness to fall back on.

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