Homelessness is a colossal issue. This is a story about a solution.
When it comes to homelessness, most of us have no idea what to do about it. Sure, sometimes I might drop some money in the lap of one of those guys sitting in the tunnels of Sydney’s train network, but even that usually just makes me feel uncomfortable and (quite frankly) glad that it’s not me sitting there.
It’s an overwhelming issue to think about, and small wonder: on any given night, 1 in 200 people are homeless! Currently, 25% of these are youth between the ages of 12 and 24.
“In Wollongong, the homelessness rate is rising to meet the unemployment rate, and there are very few more services than there were a couple of years ago.” Says Robert Powell, project manager for Churches Housing.
And things are starting to look even grimmer: according to Powell, with a depletion of government coffers comes a withdrawal of financial support. So the crisis rates are rising, the money is dwindling and the jobs are disappearing. Great. Where is the answer in all of this? It seems that all we hear on the topic are cries for help. Just Google it and thousands of sob-stories will come up. It seems that any hopes for these people are buried beneath doomsday talk and the flailing attempts of those crippled by their own sense of compassion.
Cue the Lighthouse Youth Initiative. It may not be solving the whole problem, but it is perhaps part of some kind of answer.
“Lighthouse Youth Housing supports, develops and empowers young people to break the cycle of homelessness.”
With what they call a more ‘holistic’ approach, Lighthouse differs from other organisations in that it seeks to engage the youth with a community and retrain them in both ordinary life skills and in living more productive, healthy lifestyles. Their rigorous schedules include compulsory early morning sessions with a personal trainer and volunteer work through the church.
“When they help out at stuff like the soup kitchen it really reinforces the idea that even though they (often) have so little, they actually do matter, and they have a lot that they can give back to the community in order to help others.” – Grant Lowe, Lighthouse Youth Initiative Manager.
The residents themselves rave about the place, boasting about the life-changing relationships with the staff and the incredible change that they have seen in themselves.
“I’m heaps more hygienic now so, you know, I find it heaps easier to make friends. And my friends keep saying they can’t believe how different I am!” – a current resident.
If you or anyone you know are in need of affordable housing please don’t hesitate to contact someone:
Or if you’d like some more information on the topic: