When *Bianca’s mother passed away, she and her son became homeless.

In seeking help, they were put in a hotel in Ballina.

“I had to pay for that. I couldn’t afford it. I slept in my car for two days.”

The next option was a sharehouse; however, some of the tenants needed mental support or had addictions. “It was bad for my son,” said Bianca.

After seeing an ad on social media, Bianca visited one of BaptistCare’s community housing sites in Lismore, and as a single mum working on a low income, she was offered the unit. “It was brand new, comfortable, open. Close to shops, a school and the hospital, and I could trust the people around me.”

That was over two years ago. Bianca is thrilled with her unit but it’s more the support, friendship and care from the BaptistCare Garimaleh team that she’s most grateful for. “Without them, we’d be on the street,” she says.

When she lost her part-time job as a Disability Support Worker last November - due to the pandemic - the team helped Bianca get another job, and even find a babysitter.

Jess, BaptistCare’s Tailored Support Coordinator in the Northern Rivers, says she’s able to come alongside tenants and be part of their journey to independence and confidence.

“Some have had complicated circumstances to navigate, not through any fault of their own. Their challenges can make holding down employment or housing really difficult. Hurdles include experiencing loss and grief, trauma from violence, or even health concerns.”

Bianca wishes more housing was available to meet the need for single-parents like her. She counts herself and her son as the lucky ones.

“Housing is a basic human right. People will be happier and not in depression-mode like I was. In the two years here, I’ve done more qualifications. I’ve got good jobs. I’ve made friends,” smiles Bianca.

BaptistCare operates two community housing locations in the Northern Rivers; Garimaleh Place and Illowra Place. It means homes for 81 seniors and single-parent families.

Read more of Bianca’s story here, and our call for a national housing strategy and commitment from all levels of government for housing funding.

*Names have been changed.