Dad forced to live in tent in Aussie park shares heartbreaking message to kids

Peter Woodforde joins the rising number of Australians sleeping rough in parks across the country. And the worst part, he says, is telling his kids.

Peter Woodforde's tent set up in Adelaide park, sleeping rough
Peter Woodforde, 68, like many Aussies, has resorted to sleeping in a park after being unable to find suitable housing. Source: 7News

An Aussie dad has shared a heartbreaking message to his children after becoming the latest to fall victim to the country's brutal housing crisis, with soaring rent and low vacancy rates forcing him into a tent.

While his makeshift gazebo wrapped in tarps set up in an Adelaide park makes for tough living conditions, especially as winter approaches, Peter Woodforde said telling his kids about his circumstances is the hardest part of all.

The 58-year-old has been sleeping rough in the city’s northeast, joining the rising number of Aussies who are currently homeless, with more and more tent cities popping up across the country. However, he's yet to tell his kids, who live with their mother, that he's been unable to find a suitable place to call home, ultimately putting him on the streets.

He admitted his 15-year-old daughter once admitted it "hurt her" to know her dad was struggling — but she has no idea about the extent of it.

Speaking to 7News from his temporary home, Woodforde said it's difficult not being able to offer his kids a place to sleep when they visit and provide them with "the best chance of having a good life".

"Every parent wants to give their kids everything they possibly can," he said. "What I say to them is that this is only temporary, Dad will get back on his feet. (But) you’re missing out on some golden years ... I help where I can, I might pick them up and drop them off from school, but now they’re too far for me to do that," he added.

"I have to get myself off the street. I have to get my family into a house," he said.

Tent 'cities' and homeless camps have continued to pop up around Brisbane. Source: ABC
Tent 'cities' and homeless camps have continued to pop up around Brisbane. Source: ABC

Woodforde feels not enough is being done to help people like him. Last month, Yahoo reported on the circumstances that forced a Queensland family of eight out of a home and into a tent in a Brisbane park.

At the time, the Fletcher family claimed they had been waiting six months for public housing after their last rental lease ended, but claim the government can't support them because they have "too many children".

In Adelaide, shelters for rough sleepers are operating at capacity. One charity reported 400 new clients in almost six months, according to 7News — and it's happening all over the country.

A recent Salvation Army survey of about 1,500 Australians found one in three people feared becoming homeless, while 94 per cent were resorting to extreme measures to save money, such as going without necessities including food, showers and medical care.

Additionally, 49 per cent of people were showering less, 22 per cent were using candles and torches to cut their electricity bills and roughly 13 per cent of families said their children were going to school hungry, and seven per cent said the children went a whole day without eating.

Paul Slater, who runs the Northwest Community Group — a charity to help the homeless — sets up stands twice a week to give away food, clothes, toiletries and tents at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane, which has become known as a makeshift community for those in desperate need of housing. Previously speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Slater said the pop-up community reflects the overall dire state of the nation's housing crisis.

Slater said the country is in "a housing emergency" and that "these people aren't here by choice". Rising rental prices and a lack of suitable housing have been blamed for Australia's upward trend in homelessness.

"I'm really passionate about everyone deserving a place to sleep at night," he said.

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