The bad news? I slept in my car on Wednesday night. The good news is because I'd planned to, I'd had the car cleaned for the first time since 1996. When I picked the kids up from school they thought I'd bought a new car.
I slept in my car alongside dozens of others, by choice, in an event organised by WISHIN (Women's Information, Support and Housing In The North) to raise awareness about the escalating rise in homeless women and the shameful lack of resources. Particularly for older single women with no history of mental illness or addiction. Women who have worked hard all their lives, often raised children and owned homes. Relationship breakdown plus shortage of affordable safe housing plus financial crisis and homelessness can be one rent payment away from sleeping rough. These women do not feel safe in much of the traditional emergency accommodation nor do they fit with the homeless due to mental illness or substance abuse. So many stay with friends or sleep in their car. Some with their children. In Australia. None of them ever expected to be homeless. These homeless women in the large part are invisible.
Homeless people are homeless for different reasons and have different needs and vulnerabilities. The current Government has put a huge injection of funds into homelessness. But it's catch up money. And only a small portion of it. The Government needs to commit to ongoing funding so the people can do what they do and not have to spend all their time chasing money.
We gathered together people from welfare groups and compassionate others in the hall of an inner-city Melbourne church and spent the night eating pizza, drinking tea from paper cups and singing. We all wore hoodies that read EVERY WOMAN NEEDS A SAFE HOME EVERY NIGHT. The local MP Kelvin Thompson rocked up. He understood that? Homelessness arises from a cycle of disadvantage. There was a bit of a talkfest and eventually we all bedded down in our cars or the hall.
I tweeted the night. Call it micro-reporting. With the hashtag #wishinacar. Thousands of people on Twitter followed the night. Because if you don't know what to do, do anything. And if you want to do something advocate, participate or donate.
It's not rocket science. All it takes is homes to end homelessness.