I was just 14 when I first became homeless and I am 29 now. I was removed from my mother’s care at just 13 and experienced homelessness from a very young age and, in fact, all through my entire youth. For me, living without a home meant being on the street and relying heavily on the kindness of strangers who eventually became like the friends and family I never had. Being so young, and not even at working age, made it incredibly terrifying as I also had no income to find housing – navigating a fully-fledged adult life at 14 is just not doable. It took me more than 10 years to secure support and housing. That’s my entire teenage years. If it wasn’t for the support of friends and the Sydney Street Choir, I am not sure what may have happened. With housing, I feel safer, a lot calmer and I’m not constantly living in fear. But it isn’t without its struggles. There are so many life skills I am yet to learn because of the basic needs I didn’t have in the past. Homelessness needs to be worked out. There are too many people like me that have mental health issues and disability issues that are being neglected and not helped, especially youth. I really think this is a hidden issue that can only be fixed if we shine the light on it.” Jess said.
“Increasingly the rates of homeless young people are on the rise. Young women make up a large proportion of the homeless youth population due to family breakdown and domestic and family violence”, Ms Barker said. We need to make sure women and children are supported through appropriate and immediate housing support to prevent long term chronic homelessness”. – Pam Barker, Chief Executive Officer, Yfoundations 2021