Facing Homelessness - Homelessness Week 2019

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5 August, 2019


It used to be that when you mentioned Homelessness it would conjure up pictures of people sleeping rough in doorways. Over the years Homelessness Week has helped to highlight the wider plight of those sleeping rough on the streets, in shelters, in cars or couch surfing. Domestic Violence, family relationship breakdowns as well as financial desperation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse now help to define the Homelessness statistics. The complex series of issues surrounding homelessness make it clear that there is no one case scenario that is a quick fix.

To the many community service organisations and charities, Homelessness Week is just another week when people need and seek help. Politicians and local members will attend forums with guest speakers and a smorgasbord lunch to chew over the subject. We, the public, display our awareness by wearing flannelette or nominating someone in the office to sleep in a sleeping bag overnight. Some will raise money for their favourite charities by walking a mile or two. What ever it is, wearing the shirt, sleeping in the car, buying a coffee for a stranger and eating the homelessness sausage sanga at Bunnings, we need to remember and continue to voice that Homelessness is not something that will go away without a longer term view and greater follow up and commitment outside of this week.

In the major cities such as Adelaide there are a wide range of services that do their best to provide people in need with something to eat, a place to wash clothes, a clean toilet, and if available a safe place to sleep. Many services have now gone mobile. "One Voice Showers" and "Orange Sky" laundry services criss-cross the Adelaide region to be where they are needed and Foodbank is pushing further and further into the outskirts with their new mobile vans to help people in need or at risk of being homeless. It may be a complex game of Tetris but having regular support services at hand to provide ongoing assistance and long term mentoring is crucial.

In the regional areas of South Australia, services are scant and shelters or housing for the homeless are almost non-existent. Without physical housing or shelter solutions for the homeless dealing with the issue is a quick ride on the futile treadmill for most service providers. Even in big shires close to Adelaide such as Mount Barker there are no shelters or accommodation for the homeless and the booming housing growth means there is also little in the way of vacant houses or bus terminal buildings for people to get out of the weather even if its a code red or code blue day. Services in these regional areas can only provide assistance by moving people away from what support groups they have established and risk creating social isolation and increased mental health issues that will have longer term problems. More time than not the person would rather be living rough in an area they are familiar or have established connection than living isolated in a house in another region. Many people return to their original area which means they also risk accumulating debt from a vacant rental.

Check out the ABC Riverland story about the ongoing support needed for regional homelessness (related content).

So slip on your favourite flannelette shirt and sign up to sleep in the car. Get your pockets bulging with gold coins and throw them into the tin whilst eating the Homeslessness sausage sanga. If you're in the outskirts of the city or in the bush regions throw your support behind the local service providers and to the butcher and the baker who quietly helps to feed the many families at risk of homelessness in your town. They need your support to help people doing it tough not just today or this week but every day and every week.

by Graeme

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Stuff can be found falling out of bathroom cabinets, hidden under beds, tucked into ceiling cavities, wedged behind couches, stacked up against garage walls and shoved into cupboards. To deal with stuff, many people choose to rent large metal boxes to lock their stuff away for months or even years at a time.

There are many reasons why people choose to put their stuff into storage. People may downsize their home, separate from a partner, leave their house, go into a retirement home or pass away, which ultimately leaves their stuff without a place to go.

Self-Storage can be a useful option for some people. However, as Financial Counsellors we often speak to people who have a storage unit but due to financial hardship have fallen behind on their payments. What people may not realise is that some storage facilities may not release your belongings to you unless you are up to date with your payments. Furthermore, if you fall too far behind on your payments your belongings may be sold at auction.

Therefore, before deciding to put your stuff into storage it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

- Can I afford a storage unit?

- Have I read the contract?

- Do I know what happens to my belongings if I cannot make the payments?

- Is the cost of maintaining the storage unit more than the cost of replacing my items?

- Do the items have sentimental value? If yes, is there an alternative option, such as a storing the items with a friend or family member?

- Can some of my belongings be stored electronically (e.g. documents and photos)?

- Will I need the items within the next 12 months? If not, could the items be sold or donated?

If you have fallen behind on your storage repayments and you would like to talk to a Financial Counsellor about your situation, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

By Sam