Amy* was just 11 years old when she first experienced homelessness. Her childhood was marred by living with a family member struggling with substance use, resulting in neglect and lack of safety. Ineffective intervention strategies from Child Protection services failed to provide Amy with safe and supportive accommodation. Due to ongoing instability, Amy dropped out of school in Year 9.
At age 15, Amy entered a relationship, becoming pregnant soon thereafter. Amy’s partner was violent and Amy, courageously, mustered the strength to leave to protect herself and her unborn son. One month before her 16th birthday, Amy welcomed her son into the world. During this period, she lived temporarily with a friend but after five months she yet again had to leave her accommodation. Amy and her young son were placed in a hotel.
At 16 years and living in a hotel with her six-month-old child, Amy engaged with the Hope Street First Response Team. The team assisted with a referral to a youth refuge where Amy stayed for a few nights before being referred to the Hope Street in Melton program providing up to 24 months of youth-focused supported accommodation with specialist support on site 7 days a week.
During her time with Hope Street, Amy was supported and encouraged to draw on her strengths, develop her skills and establish connections to her community. This was achieved by linking Amy into education, parental support, mental health counselling, and the services of a general practitioner.
Finding employment to fit in with Amy’s schooling and parenting responsibilities proved to be a challenge. To create additional income, Amy decided to start her own business, providing makeup to the local high school students for debutants and graduations. To support Amy, the Hope Street team applied for a grant from the City of Melton which was successfully obtained. Sadly, before Amy was able to start her business, COVID-19 struck.
During the pandemic, Amy showed her resilience, quickly adapting to and embracing remote learning as she completed Year 12. Amy chose to have her child with her at home and not access care due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19. With the increase in government support payments during the pandemic and the freeze on rents in transitional housing, Amy was able to save in preparation for moving out of the program.
Upon the successful completion of Year 12 and with her savings, Amy felt ready to explore the possibility of private rental. Her case management team applied for Private Rental Brokerage funding and an Office of Housing Bond Loan to resource Amy to secure a three-bedroom townhouse in Melton, close to public transport and close to her son’s care provider. Amy moved into the property in February and has since turned the property into a beautiful home.
Amy is proud of her achievements and the fact that she has been able to create a safe home for her son. This year Amy plans to start beauty school and begin her business. Hope Street’s case management team will remain in continued contact, providing outreach support for an additional 12 months to ensure her transition into a private rental tenancy is successful. As each month passes, Amy’s confidence and independence continues to grow.
Amy has demonstrated incredible character over the course of her journey at Hope Street displaying strength, perseverance and resilience. She acknowledges how much she has grown from the 16-year-old that Hope Street first met back in 2018. Her personal growth has been nothing short of life changing.
Hope Street are confident Amy and her son have a bright and successful future ahead of them.
*Name changed to protect identity