Sharon* is a 24-year-old woman who has a long history of homelessness that started when she was a child.
"I went through a time then of being homeless, sleeping in cars, going from couch to couch, there was a lot of sexual assault happening to me over that time too. All that led to me using drugs and being very depressed, as I had lost all hope."
Sharon sought help through the homelessness service sector after she realised she was pregnant. "I realised I had to get my life in order, so I sought help," she said. She ended up in Hope Street's youth refuge in Brunswick West for a few months.
She says Hope Street entered her life just at the right time. "When I got to Hope Street I got filled with hope. Being in a refuge gave me consistency – and I really needed that – there are rules and structure, and I had to be home by a certain time at night, so it felt almost like there were parents in the home looking after me and keeping me in line. All the staff were so kind and really cared about me – I hadn't had that for many years so it felt brand new to me," she said.
After a brief stay in the youth refuge, Sharon secured a place in Hope Street's youth foyer-like program of supported transitional housing, where she can stay for the next 1-2 years.
"It was a very bumpy road to get here. I'm off drugs now, and doing my best to be a great mum. Now that things are finally settling down, I'm starting to dream about the future and make plans," she said.
*Name changed to protect identity