Homeless couple’s hopes dashed

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Pictured is Alan and Lynn (right) with son Dale (left) at their camp.
Camera IconPictured is Alan and Lynn (right) with son Dale (left) at their camp. Credit: Pictures: Simon Santi, Simon Santi / The West Australian

A homeless couple living out of a caravan are still sleeping rough more than a month after meeting with Premier Mark McGowan in the East Rockingham homeless camp.

Alan, 67, and Lynn, 61, met with the Premier during his visit to the camp on July 26, when he asked them what the Government could do to assist.

In the weeks after that meeting, the couple said they were told there was no public housing on offer but a private rental was available in nearby Kwinana.

However, the condition of the home meant they had to pass it up.

“We unfortunately couldn’t take it because of our health conditions,” Lynn said.

“It had slate floors and I’ve got walking problems and it would have been too risky for me.”

The couple have also had to delay major operations because they are sleeping rough.

Both Alan and Lynn have ongoing serious health conditions.

Alan was recently taken to hospital with a ruptured ulcer and lost a significant amount of blood.

Meanwhile, Lynn had been waiting years to undergo two knee replacements and was recently told she had finally moved to the top of the list.

But doctors do not want to operate.

“They are worried about sending me back knowing I live in the bush,” she said.

Many people think of retirement as a time of relaxation and travel but for Alan and Lynn, generosity towards others left them without a roof over their head.

Earlier this year, the couple realised that assisting others had left them in a dire financial situation- and on the brink of losing everything they owned.

In a last-ditch attempt to save their home of nearly 25 years, the couple begged their mortgage broker to give them a few weeks leeway but this was denied.

They soon found themselves on the streets.

“We helped people and we thought about ourselves last,” Lynn said.

They spent nearly a month camping at Kwinana Beach before being moved on, and then moved into the East Rockingham homeless camp.

It is here they have spent the past four months.

Their 36-year-old son Dale lost his own home in 2017 after a relationship breakdown, and was living with and caring for his parents when he too found himself on the street.

Concern about their wellbeing and health means he is also living in the camp with his parents.

When visiting the camp, the Premier spoke with the couple about their living conditions and asked what could be done.

“He asked us what we thought would be a reasonable idea to help and asked us how he could help and that he would see what he could do,” Lynn said.

A State Government spokes-woman said the Department of Communities continued to engage regularly with the occupants of the bush camp, but that offers of accommodation had been knocked back.

“Many of the occupants have indicated that they are not willing to consider accommodation in other areas of the metropolitan region which does create a barrier to identifying appropriate accommodation options for each individual,” she said. “Communities is working alongside other service providers to address each individual’s need based on their individual circumstances and link them with the necessary supports.

She said that crisis accommodation had been offered to individuals to offer immediate relief while sourcing longer-term options, however some individuals have declined this offer.

“No two journeys into homelessness are the same, and the challenges and barriers to stable, secure accommodation vary greatly,” she said.

Shadow minister for homelessness Tony Krsticevic has visited the camp on several occasions and said he was extremely concerned for Alan and Lynn’s wellbeing.

Pictured is Alan and Lynn (right) with son Dale (left) and Shadow Minister for Homelessness Tony Krsticevic at their camp.
Camera IconPictured is Alan and Lynn (right) with son Dale (left) and Shadow Minister for Homelessness Tony Krsticevic at their camp. Credit: Simon Santi / The West Australian

“They need to be found and offered suitable accommodation, as well as wraparound services,” he said.

He said homelessness across Perth had become more visible than ever before and cited cost-of-living pressures and housing affordability as the main drivers of increasing numbers of people sleeping rough.

“We are starting to see more and more homeless people like we’ve never seen before,” he said.

The Department of Communities has been checking in on the camp’s occupants but statistics from Shelter WA show that the average wait time for social housing in Perth’s south-west had an average wait of 2½ years.

Lynn said that all she wanted was a roof over their heads.

“At this time of our lives I thought we would be happily retired and travelling,” she said.

“I never thought this would happen to me. There’s been a lot of promises but not a lot has happened.”

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