This World Homeless Day, Ruby, a Therapeutic Case Manager in our Community Connect program discusses misconceptions about homelessness. Ruby, who has experienced homelessness and housing instability herself from an early age now works in our Community Connect program. Her work is in an outreach capacity with young people aged between sixteen to twenty-five who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. When looking for a role in social work with young people, Ruby was drawn to Lighthouse’s authentic ‘’person first’’ and ‘’housing first’’ model of care.
‘’I think youth homelessness is an incredibly misunderstood and invisible issue, so a large motive for me is to unveil some of the misconceptions. Having a roof does not necessarily equal safe housing. Our mainstream housing systems are already insurmountably flooded by never-ending waitlists, and young people are often excluded before even making the waitlist.’’
The misconception of having a roof equating to having safe housing is dangerous as it means many fall through the cracks as their housing instability is hidden until it reaches the stage of primary street homelessness.
‘’What the general public sees on a day-to-day is only the tip of the iceberg of the housing crisis in Australia, and young people are often the most vulnerable and excluded from these systems.’’
While having a roof is an important part of ending homelessness, there are other components required to make a person feel safe in their space.
‘’Every day, we create safe houses [for ourselves] by putting up flags, posters and artworks, by filling our homes with food, books, plants, animals and people that we love and who love us. This inherent and unconditional acceptance in this space allows us to be vulnerable, and to recharge and learn and explore and to heal.’’
Ruby believes that being curious and open-minded about people’s experiences and journeys with homelessness can help to reduce the stigma. Other ways the community can get involved is by donating money and raising awareness.
This World Homeless Day on the tenth of the tenth, we are asking our community to donate $10 to help make a positive difference to a young person’s life. You can make a donation here.
This interview was conducted by Notice Board Systems, who have been featuring our World Homeless Day campaign on their digital screens in IGA supermarkets across Australia. We thank them for their support.