PAULA Angel is simply grateful to be alive and have a roof over her head.
The 48-year-old was a victim of extreme domestic violence at the hands of a former partner.
“An ex almost killed me,” she said.
“I was basically put in as a Jane Doe in the trauma ward.
“When I went into the hospital, they said ‘lucky you got here, you were nearly legs up’.”
After leaving the relationship and being granted a violence restraining order, Paula found herself homeless in 2015.
“I had to rebuild myself, because you’re just stripped of everything – to the point where I would have been quite happy to hang from the rafters,” she said.
“My dog basically kept me alive.”
Her dog, a beloved pit bull called Taima the Piglet, was Paula’s companion and protector when she was living rough.
He was recently put down after a spider bite.
She recalled one of the first nights she spent in her car, and the sense of shame that accompanied her.
“I do remember going to an oval in Ocean Reef – I parked there,” she said.
“I wanted to leave the windows down, because it was hot, but there were mosquitoes.
“I was worried about people coming – I didn’t get a lot of sleep.”
“If you were there too often, workers would be looking.
“You go into the back of your car, organise your stuff.
“It was my own self-consciousness – you go and use a public toilet and people would look at you like you were going to shoot up.”
She had been homeless for 18 months when the 50 Live 50 Homes program became involved.
Teale Prus works for Ruah Community Services and is the project co-ordinator of 50 Lives 50 Homes – a collaborative initiative through the homelessness and housing sectors involving 27 different organisations.
She said Paula was assessed to have a high vulnerability, and that’s when the machine kicked into gear.
“From there a partner organisation picks up support,” Ms Prus said.
“All clients have a case worker who takes on their support and looks at what needs they have and what we can access.”
Through 50 Lives 50 Homes, Paula was eventually placed in a home of her own long-term – a safe, secure house where she can continue to rebuild her life.
“50 Lives 50 Homes has changed my life,” she said.
“They’re still there for me – they’re people I trust.”
Entrypoint Perth (homeless services) 1800 124 684
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14