Many and var­ied faces of our city’s home­less

Southern Telegraph - - NEWS -

Tris­tan, 31

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, 56

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, 45

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.

Laurie, 56

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