Many and varied faces of our city’s homeless
Tristan has been living in the camp for about a month, where he said he has set up a small tent and is treating the camp as a “place to sleep at night”.
Previously camping with other people near Mangles Bay, Tristan said they had been forced to move on, after which he spent time in the city living on the streets, before returning to Rockingham.
“This is just a temporary thing for me until I get back on my feet,” he said.
Growing up in the area, Tristan said he was in the process of applying for a home, but a lack of identification documents was making the process incredibly difficult.
“It’s easy to get a bond together, but the issue is putting together identification to secure a place,” he said. “Places want you to provide past water or electricity bills, but when you are sleeping rough, you don’t have anything like that, so without that paperwork you are stuffed when trying to find a house.”
Tristan said although there was a youth and women’s hostel close by, there was nothing available for men.
“If we are offered accommodation it is always in Fremantle or the city, so we can’t stay near here,” he said. “I think a lot of people choose to stay here and sleep rough so they can stay in the area they are from.”
He said a strong sense of community had developed between people living in the camp, with at least one person always staying at the camp to look out for everyone’s belongings.
“Whenever I leave, I’ll make sure to leave my tent so someone else can use it,” he said.
Laurie has been homeless on and off for several years, and has been living in the camp for the past five weeks with a friend.
His patch of the camp has been transformed, with a separate bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom.
When sleeping on the streets, Laurie said he would be woken most nights to his belongings being stolen or the threat of violence.
“I feel safe here and I’m not scared. I can have a decent night’s sleep,” he said.
Raising his two sons as a single father, Laurie said he had been plagued by mental health issues and one day walked out of his house and never returned.
He has a small generator for power and brings water to the site.
Laurie said he previously spent almost all his Newstart allowance on rent, with only $38 a week left to survive on. “If it was affordable I would pay rent, but if there is accommodation I am not aware of it,” he said. “At the end of the day, where are they going to move us?”
Germaine spent time living in her car last year and recently moved into the camp to stay close to her children, who live in the area.
“I’m just trying to live a healthy and happy life,” the 45-year-old said. “We have been cleaning up, I take out the rubbish each day.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the way we are living, we all have our little goals.”
A lack of affordable housing options forced Germaine out of the market, while a desire to live on her own has meant finding her own place almost impossible.
“I really don’t want to be forced in living with someone I don’t know,” she said.
I feel safe here and I’m not scared. I can have a decent night’s sleep.