Facing homelessness during the height of a global pandemic wasn’t something that Reece, a long-term private-renter from the Fleurieu Peninsula, ever expected to happen to his young family.
As housing prices sky-rocketed during COVID, the single father and his two boys, now aged 7 and 9, were forced to move from their family home when the landlord decided to sell.
“Before COVID, I was paying $250 a week in rent. That home is now $450 a week. We just couldn’t afford it,” Reece said.
After applying for over 160 private rentals with no success, Reece started reaching out to services for support.
“I was telling everyone – ‘I have two kids and I’m about to be homeless’,” Reece said. “I was applying for everything, from the Fleurieu all the way down to Marion.”
In June 2022, with nowhere else to go, the young family found themselves sleeping in a caravan. They spent the next several months living day-to-day with no fixed address.
“We were moving every few days. Sometimes we were in a cabin or motel – that sent me broke. Other times we were in a carpark,” Reece said. “We stayed in a caravan on the side of the road for a while. We had to notify the council and put a ‘temporary’ sign up.
“It became so stressful. I found myself drinking a lot, which led to me losing my license.”
Despite these many setbacks, Reece managed to keep his boys in school the entire time.
“The boy’s schooling came first – they never missed a day,” Reece said.
“We spent lots of time outdoors – they love going to the skatepark, they love their sports – anything we could do for free.”
After connecting with Junction, the young family finally found some relief and moved into their new home right before Christmas.
Utilising services and donations, including a couch found on the side of the road, they began to re-build their lives.
“The boys now play football at their local club. I love watching them. They want to get into basketball next – They have lots of energy to burn,” he said.
“We’ve become good friends with the neighbours, they have kids the same age. They play together, have sleepovers – they have even been boating.”
Reece soon found part-time shiftwork as a cook, before settling into a gardening and landscaping job, matching his skillset perfectly. He has also been volunteering at the local Neighbourhood Centre’s Repair Café.
Now, a year on, the young family is thriving and looking to the future. They hope to build a greenhouse and chicken coop in their backyard and have plans to try new activities, including archery.