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My friend is experiencing homelessness – what can I do?

Two people are holding hands to provide support

If your friend or family member is experiencing homelessness or is at risk of losing their home, then you probably have a lot of questions about what you can do to help.

This is a short guide on how you can support your loved ones in this situation – and how you can get through this difficult time as a relative or friend.

Are you in need of immediate help? Get help now

Should I talk to my friend about their situation?

Sometimes people in crisis don’t want to talk about their situation with friends and family and may have their own reasons for this. If that is the case, it’s best to respect their decision.

If your loved one is ready to talk to you about their situation, encourage them to connect to support services and attend appointments, even if it might feel hopeless at times.

Bear in mind that housing is just one aspect of homelessness. People generally become homeless because of a range of potential issues, such as

  • unemployment,
  • mental ill-health,
  • health issues,
  • financial burdens,
  • trauma,
  • substance use or
  • family violence.

All these issues may require specialised support. Therefore, breaking the cycle of homelessness can take time and persistence.

One of the best ways to support your loved one is by not giving up on them and showing you are there when they need you!

Things you can do to support a person experiencing homelessness

Every person is unique and so are the circumstances that led to them losing their home. This means there’s no ‘one size fits all’ way to support your friend or family member on their journey out of homelessness.

The most important step for a person to take when they are at risk or experiencing homelessness is to connect with the right services – and that’s something you can assist with:

How to help someone at risk of being evicted

Does your friend or family member live in a rental property and have they received a notice to vacate? Knowing your rights as a tenant is a great first step.

If the property is in Victoria, contact Tenants Victoria online or at 1300 018 228 to speak with a lawyer or advocate with specialist knowledge of Victorian rental laws.

Consumer Affairs Victoria also provide information and advice for people at risk of eviction. You can reach them at 1300 55 81 81 or via the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Help find the right homelessness services

Ask your loved one if they have access to the contact information of local support services. If not, let them know they can call the free 24-hour Crisis Line at 1800 825 955. A housing and support worker will take their call and refer them to help in their local area.

It may also help to contact the local council about what community services are available in the area the person is in.

Homelessness services are generally provided based on what area the person has been staying in before they lost their home. Finding the entry point to housing services for the region is a great first step.

A list of homelessness services and resources for people in Melbourne and wider Victoria is available here.

You can also support your loved one to contact Centrelink to explore what financial assistance they may be eligible for.

Offer support, but don’t take over

Offering your help is a great way to show someone you care. But as much as possible, empower your friend or family member by letting them take control over making phone calls and appointments.

Also, note that support services generally won’t share information about the people they assist, unless your loved one signed a consent form or specifically requests you to be included as a carer.

Emotional support for families and friends of people experiencing homelessness

Supporting a friend or a family member through this difficult time can be hard. Make sure you take good care of yourself and get help when you are finding the situation confronting or need emotional support.

For free crisis support, contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or online – 24 hours a day from anywhere in Australia.

Are you in need of immediate help? Get help now

Do you have a question?

Do you have a question about homelessness we haven’t answered? Then complete our contact form or reach out via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.