In an innovative response to the housing crisis, Brisbane Youth Service (BYS) has partnered with the Brisbane City Council (BCC) to use vacant properties designated for future Council development for young people, and young families, experiencing homelessness.
A beautiful three-bedroom home became available in December through the partnership, meaning a new place to call home for Sophie* and her young family just in time for the new year.
“My children and I became homeless due to the real-estate raising the rent so high I couldn’t pay it, but when I said I could find a way to afford it, they then changed their minds stating they were doing renovations instead and needed us to leave to do it. This was back in May with a week’s notice,” said Sophie.
After begging for more time to find a new rental, Sophie unsuccessfully applied for up to 200 houses and units, sometimes rejected within minutes of sending the application.
“I gave up on a finding a rental by September, and with the threat of homelessness looming I didn’t want my kids sleeping in a car. I bought a tent and went to the cheapest campground with availability which was Moreton Island. I camped there for a month with my children during the rainy season of October and it was really cold, windy and wet, but the kids had a great time so I’m grateful we made the best out of a bad situation.
“I found out later that the real-estate had lied to me and as soon as I handed in the keys, they raised the rent and leased it to a single tenant without doing any renovations at all, and we were homeless.
“This was very distressing as I saw they only cared about getting more money rather than keeping young kids under five off the street. I would have fought harder to stay in that rental if I knew rather than moving out into homelessness with my kids. I felt betrayed and tricked by the real estate and lost all hope in humanity and of things being better for my kids.
After camping there was hope. Sophie connected with Brisbane Youth Service who organised crisis accommodation for the family in a hotel, and for the first time in a month they had a warm shower and washed their dirty clothes.
“I finally felt like things were turning around. BYS supported us by giving us food as well as keeping us in the hotel, so we didn’t have to camp again.
“When I found out about Brisbane City Council and Brisbane Youth Service working to find us a home I was brought to tears, I had accepted we were going to live in the hotel long into the new year.
“You can imagine my shock when BYS gave me the news that I’ve been approved for a real house. A beautiful big one with everything I had dreamed for in a place for us to live but didn’t think we could afford, like separate rooms for the kids and myself, a big yard to play in, a garden to grow vegetables and flowers, and a bathtub in the bathroom as well. BYS also took into consideration my kids start school next year and there’s a lovely school within walking distance from the house for them to attend. I couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative.
“I couldn’t have done this without Brisbane City Council having the house available and allowing us to lease it, but most of all Brisbane Youth Service, they are truly the most caring and supportive people I’ve ever met, they helped me find my way when I felt to lost and I’m so grateful for the opportunities they have given us. They worked tirelessly to get us a home by Christmas, and I’m forever grateful thank you!”
Brisbane Youth Service is grateful to have a safe home to place this young family through the Council partnership and applauds Council’s commitment to finding new ways to help support those affected by the current housing shortage.
Properties like these are considered ‘meanwhile usage’ and the road ahead will be long for this family who will continue their search for sustainable long-term housing.
In the current housing crisis, the future may be unknown. But for now, one young family are enjoying waking up in a house rather than a tent or hotel room.
*Name changed to protect identity.
For further information please contact:
Brisbane Youth Service
P: 0481 558 783 E: email@example.com
- Learn more about the Brisbane City Council Community Housing Partnership Project.
- Each year, Brisbane Youth Service supports thousands of young people aged 12-25 years, and their children, in crisis and the demand continues to increase significantly each year.
- The number of requests for assistance from young people has increased by 88% over the past 3 years.
- In 2021-22, one in five (22%) of young people supported by Brisbane Youth Service were young parents.
- BYS supported 114 children aged between birth and 11 years old, along with their young parent.
- Most were experiencing a range of other complex issues and barriers such as:
– 76% were in unsafe, unsuitable or unaffordable housing
– 54% had no or poor family support
-45% had experienced past relationship violence
-23% had current legal issues
-18% had no source of income
Since 1977, Brisbane Youth Service has been working to create new futures for vulnerable and at-risk young people (aged 12-25 years) and their children, providing free, confidential services including: crisis and transitional housing; emergency relief; physical and mental health services; alcohol and drug interventions; and specialist programs for young women and young families.