Working woman goes from paying $1200 a week to living in Sydney tent

A bad situation left Kerry unable to afford rent as advocates warn 'we have an absolute housing emergency on our hands'.

A woman burdened by Sydney's housing crisis has revealed how she suddenly became homeless when just a year ago she happily called a two-bedroom apartment in Waterloo home.

Kerry, in her 30s, was paying $1200 a week for her inner-city pad, but now the former admin worker lives in a tent in Enmore Park, simply because she can't afford a roof over her head.

Kerry, who now works as a jeweller by day, is among the alarming rise of the 'working homeless' – people who hold a job but can not afford suitable housing due to soaring prices and a lack of supply.

Homeless Sydney woman Kerry
Kerry works but still can't afford rent in Sydney. Source: 7News

Her best option right now is to "take care of myself until I can afford rent again," she told 7News from the park where she now resides.

"I always thought of a homeless person as someone with a cardboard placard," she added.

'It was supposed to be just for a couple of weeks'

Explaining how she got here, Kerry said "homelessness is just one bad situation away for everybody" and argued that it's happening more and more.

"I got a little bit ill and before I knew it I couldn’t afford my rent as well as paying for my medication and staying in a place in Sydney,” she told the Daily Telegraph. "That’s the reason why I ended up so quickly on the streets – it was supposed to be just for a couple of weeks."

Homeless tent set up in Sydney park.
Kerry sleeps out of a tent set up in Enmore Park in Sydney. Source: 7News

Housing crisis 'worst it's ever been'

The housing crisis in Australia is the worst it's ever been, according to Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister. "We have an absolute housing emergency on our hands," she said.

The share of rental properties listed for less than $400 a week hit a record low, according to PropTrack. In Sydney, it has dropped from 21 per cent to just nine per cent over the past three years.

As a result, the number of Australians needing emergency accommodation or living on the streets and in cars is surging.

A Safe Place to Call Home, Mission Australia's Homelessness and Stable Housing Impact Report 2023, released on Tuesday, found a 26 per cent increase in demand for services over the past three years.

Ms Callister said there had been a 50 per cent jump in people seeking help after becoming homeless, instead of when they were at risk.

The charity is calling on state and federal governments to act.

"Without a significant boost of social and affordable housing across the country, homelessness cannot be eradicated," Ms Callister said.

"Mission Australia is calling on governments for greater investment to build the one million new social and affordable homes that will be needed over the next 20 years to ensure that everyone who seeks help is connected to a safe place to call home."

with AAP

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