1 Couch surf if you can, but not for long
If you can couch surf, do, but know that you will wear out your welcome. You must move on quickly or you will lose the support structure you have.
Then follow ALL the suggestions below. Don’t try to look on any of these as permanent. They are just a way to get out from underfoot at wherever you are couch surfing. If you luck in, you will find compatible people but very often the people you are moving in with don’t actually want you there any more than you want to be there. They need your money to pay their rent or mortgage. Just be aware of that. One thing that everyone who finds themselves without a home must do is learn to be as ruthless as everyone else – and look after the good people when you find them.
2 Look for a share house
Get onto the Seniors Connect Facebook group and see if you can find an existing share house to move into.
Get onto realestate.com.au. They have a “share” section. I have found rooms successfully from here, but short-term rather than long-term. You may find unofficial “boarding house” style operations. These can be the best because no-one is expecting to be together for long, so they leave one another alone. Also place your own advert. This has been my most successful way of finding temporary refuge.
3 Look for a house-sit
The house-sitting sites
Start browsing the house-sitting sites. Join up with a few without paying anything, while you watch to see which one has more sits available in the area you want to be. You won’t be able to apply for a sit without paying for membership but you can make sure the one you pay for has some sits you can apply for. The one I have used is this one. But don’t pay – YET.
The house-sitting Facebook groups
Then get onto all the house-sitting groups on Facebook. I don’t know how successful they are but there are lots of them. This is just one. Run a search and join them all.
4 Apply for public housing
Meanwhile apply for public housing. Some people do just get lucky and get straight into a place, although every time I have tried it I get told to fill out the forms and go away for 10 years. For this to be successful you MUST appear to be incompetent, so don’t be afraid to sit and blubber in the waiting room, or better still set up a paper trail with doctors who will certify that you are about to lose it if not helped immediately. All the better if you can have a panic attack. After all, you are on the edge of that anyway, so it won’t be hard. The whole process will be humiliating – get used to it. Life for those of us in this situation is humiliating until we take control. Then we can use that humiliation to good effect. If they think you can help yourself, they won’t help you.For some information on public and community housing for your area go to Public and community housing, on this site, and select your state.
5 For the fit and able, consider some form of volunteering
This is a longer term strategy that can lead to the formation of good connections and potentially a new lifestyle, whilst getting a temporary roof over your head. Read the following sections on this web-site for information on these options.
6. Learn to ask for help
Meanwhile, once you have a place you will still need to learn to live very very lean. So, find the food bank in your area. Some are free, and some have very cheap food. The two I have known (Nowra and Bendigo) had very good quality food. You can eat cheaply from these places. If you don’t know where one is, walk into a local “op shop” and ask them. They will know.
Many of the charities, but especially Vinnies and Salvos, hand out vouchers for supermarket supplies. They will also help you get re-housed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and for handouts when you need them. You are entitled to them!
Keeping sane – you are in good company
Just remember, some people ask for “help” – ie rort the system – as a way of life. You are doing it because you are in a crisis caused by seriously bad government policy over many years. You are one of the “dispossessed” who has been driven out of house and home by an increasingly thoughtless and careless culture. Your problem is not personal. It is shared by perhaps up to 200,000 of us. You are in good company.
…and once you have breathing space
When you feel safe and know you can relax for a few weeks or few months, consider helping us find permanent solutions. You can contribute to solutions, firstly by helping us with the Facebook group and this web-site. Down the track you can help by contributing to the development of new affordable housing. Self-empowerment, and the validation of knowing you are in good company, is the best way through this dreadful situation.