From homelessness to a forever home – Phil’s story

25 February 2021
Man moves into a new home with his dog

People experiencing homelessness deserve equal access to affordable housing, jobs, healthcare and an education, which they often miss out on. We’ve been working overtime to place people experiencing homelessness sheltering in hotels during the pandemic into permanent accommodation which suits their needs.

Giving peace of mind to people like Phil, who’d been living in the same hotel for six months, facing an uncertain future, but appreciative for a short time he didn’t have to constantly worry about where he’d sleep each night.

“It was great having stability. A place to stay and not live out in the open,” Phil said.

“I can’t explain how nice it was to just have the basics, a roof over my head and a shower.

“The virus dragged on. The isolation and keeping to myself was hard to manage. Every day was the same. My life during the pandemic was isolated. With isolation, on top of that isolation.”

Personal circumstances and a lack of affordable housing pushed Phil into homelessness

The hotel was a step up from the streets, but had no semblance of a ‘home’. Devoid of the connections he had been searching for ever since his life unravelled after a strained family relationship, the loss of his parents and his job in the family business – everything took its toll.

“After my parents passed away, I really struggled to get along with another member of my family. I needed a change of scenery. A fresh start,” Phil said.

“I love to work…. I worked in the family business for many years. I would do the food prep in our restaurant and I’d run the business side of things too.

“When all avenues are shut off and you have no one to turn to, things start to pile up really quickly.

“I’ve been struggling to get a job for so many years now, that’s really been the reason why I found myself where I am, but I’m a really good, hard working person when I get going. But I just need that chance.”

If personal circumstances weren’t hard enough, a severe shortage of affordable housing and employment opportunities in Melbourne, almost broke him mentally.

“It’s always going to be difficult [to find somewhere affordable to live when you don’t have a job. The rental market is really competitive. Long lines of people at each inspection. I was priced out of the market,” Phil said.

“I couldn’t get a job. I visited some other homelessness services out there who made me feel like a number. It was tough, you take a lot for granted when you have a roof over your head.

“I slept rough for a while and in my car for about two and a half years.

“You have to make sacrifices sometimes. All you can do is put your best effort in.

“I had no one to rely on, once the money dried up that was it, I had no one to help me.”

A world away from the life Phil envisioned for himself growing up in Frankston, with dreams of becoming a pilot. He never lost his ‘sky’s the limit’ perspective when living on the streets but it became buried beneath mounting problems.

Phil makes a fresh start - supported by our GreenLight team

Everything changed when Phil felt all his Christmases come at once when our GreenLight team located him in the hotel and found him a permanent home last December.

“It was a nice cool day and the sun was out. A truck came by with the new furniture the [Sacred Heart Mission] team got for me. And they even helped me unpack too,” Phil said.

“I met one of the neighbours too who helped me unlock the front door.

“I was excited and relieved. I thank the team at Sacred Heart Mission for their help. I am amazed, surprised and thankful.

“It was also really nice that my worker regularly called to check up on me. Asking how I’m going. Making sure everything was ok, how I was adjusting. Making me feel relaxed and feel at home.”

In an instant, Phil’s whole life outlook dramatically improved: all it took was a home with support.

“I now have a vantage point to start from where I can branch out in life and work. Whatever I want to do,” Phil says.

“Before, my main concern was getting a roof over my head. Once I got that I didn’t have to worry about the weather. All these things that we take for granted.”

Our committed teams are ready to restore hope and a future for hundreds of others, like Phil, who need sustainable housing with support to get their life back on track.

“Now [I’m settled] I’m looking forward to more self-development. What sometimes let me down in the past. When things get you down and your self-esteem slips, but I feel more capable of managing this now, thanks to where I am.

“I know it’s baby steps at first, but once I get a bit of self-confidence, I can then hopefully find permanent, meaningful work.”

“I would like to remind everyone who reads this to please be open minded. There are different reasons for why people are in need. More than what we see on the surface. We can all label people, but we don’t always look at the whole picture.”

Make a House a Home - for Phil and many other people

Watch our video and learn from Julia, our Supportive Housing Worker, how she helped Phil settle into his new home, thanks to our ‘Make a House a Home’ fund:

View video transcript

Make A House A Home

Hear from Case Manager Julia, how our ‘Make A House A Home’ Fund changes lives – and how you can get involved:

I work with people to find housing, settle in and to connect to their local communities. But when people finally find safe long-term housing, they often don’t have anything to make their house a home. It’s just an empty, lonely space.

Our ‘Make A House A Home’ fund helps people to buy whatever they need to feel at home.

I had the privilege to work with Phil towards the end of last year. His story is an example of how the fund makes a practical difference in people’s lives. Phil is a 56 year old man from Frankston.

After losing his parents and the breakdown of a family relationship, Phil has found it difficult to find work ever since.

He experienced homelessness because there just wasn’t a suitable place that he could afford. So for the last decade, Phil moved from one insecure, unsafe dwelling to the next. And for a long time, he slept in his car.

Then the pandemic hit and the government moved Phil and other people sleeping rough into hotels to keep people safe.

But a hotel is not a home.

When Phil was finally offered a public housing property, I supported him to settle in and connect with his new community.

But our support didn’t stop there. Through the ‘Make A House A Home’ fund, Phil could buy furniture for his house.

I remember how a teammate and I in full PPA, helped Phil move the furniture into his home, a bed, a television, a couch, and more.

Phil has now been living in his home for several months and he’s ready to create a brighter future for himself.

We’ll be working with hundreds more people to move into housing this year, and I urge you to please help them to make a house a home.

Your support will make all the difference to the people in our community. You can help them settle in to their new homes and communities.

You can help them start a new life.

Help Phil and others settle into their new homes
Spread happiness where it counts by donating to our new ‘Make a House a Home’ fund, where you’ll make the housing dream come alive for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness.