1 August 2022

Heavy rains made Helen's house uninhabitable, leaving her without a place to live. With support from Life Without Barriers and HUME Housing, Helen was able to find a safe place to call home.

A woman wearing a blue t-shirt and sunglasses is sitting on a bench holding her walking stick and waving at the camera.

Helen was living in a Department of Housing unit when it was severely damaged by the heavy rains in March, 2022.

There was water damage to the carpet, the roof was leaking, and mould was growing on the ceiling. Helen’s home was uninhabitable.

“I’m not going back! The carpet needs to be replaced, and it smells of mould,” Helen said.

Helen lives independently with drop-in support from the Life Without Barriers team. When visiting, the team recognised that Helen needed their help and advocacy with accessing emergency accommodation, otherwise, she may have been left without an appropriate place to live.

Helen was temporarily transferred to hotel accommodation while the team worked on a solution.

Helen’s Life Without Barriers support team connected with the Department of Housing and organised for the maintenance issues at her unit to be assessed. The team knew that Helen needed urgent help as she couldn’t afford to keep paying both rent and hotel fees.

Life Without Barriers also worked closely with housing partner HUME Community Housing to ensure Helen was not homeless. With the support of the Gosford In Home Support Team, Helen was re-located to an alternate emergency placement in her local area.

Helen loved her new temporary home.

“There are no stairs, and there are lots of people to chat to,” she said.

Regional Operations Manager, Jean Hampstead knew the location of the emergency accommodation was critical to Helen.

“Helen is very independent and routine-oriented. We were very fortunate that Helen was able to cope with the changes she’s had to deal with, and it was wonderful that we could support her along the way,” she said.

On 29 April 2022, Helen was appointed a Housing Client Services Officer, who confirmed that Helen’s unit was uninhabitable. The process of finding her a new home and claiming damages to her personal belongings began.

Jean says that Helen's situation highlights the challenges and support needed for people with disability during an emergency.

“This experience has demonstrated just how difficult it is for people with disability to access the appropriate supports in an emergency situation."

"Helen would have become homeless without the support of HUME Housing and Life Without Barriers. Some options were for Helen to move into a dormitory-style women’s shelter, but this would never have worked for her. Helen is very routine-oriented, so we’re lucky she’s been able to cope with the changes she’s had to deal with.

“We’re very grateful to HUME Housing for their empathy, humanity, and good problem-solving skills. It’s partnerships like these that get results for our clients,” said Jean.

Life Without Barriers and many of our partners recognise there are simply not enough housing options for people with disability and that this is further compromised during an extreme weather event.

As an organisation, we have made a commitment to invigorate living choices for people with disability. You can read about this commitment in our Strategy 2025.

A persons' story is precious. We take storytelling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story and we love that. Sometimes they ask us to tell their story for them. We always make sure they give us their ok and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward.

Homelessness support services

Life Without Barriers provides a range of homelessness and emergency support services.

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