St Patrick’s Community Support Centre concerned life-changing National Affordable Housing Agreement might be in doubt

Volunteer AJ at St Pat's Rack. Picture: Matt Jelonek           d466025
Volunteer AJ at St Pat's Rack. Picture: Matt Jelonek         d466025

ADRIAN (AJ) Baillie has not had the easiest of lives.

When he was just two years old, he had a tumour removed from his brain and while the operation was a success, it left him with epilepsy and learning difficulties.

He quickly found school to be too difficult and eventually dropped out in Year 10.

As an adult, Mr Baillie found himself down on his luck until he knocked on the door of the St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.

“I was living on the street because I had left my partner who was an alcoholic and I didn’t want to live like that anymore,” he said.

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“I had a daughter from a previous relationship but living on the streets meant I couldn’t see my little girl anymore because I didn’t have a bedroom for her to sleep in and I really missed her.”

At St Pat’s Mr Baillie found more than just a bed. He also found a raft of new friends, gained a qualification and had doors to a number of new opportunities opened.

He now volunteers at the organisation’s op shop St Pat’s Rack as well as the Orange Sky Laundry, which also helps underprivileged people in the area.

After 18 months of living in a St Pat’s lodging house, he found a brand new place to call his own with the help of the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA).

“The apartment is brilliant; it is right near the train line and the shops and it has two bedrooms so my daughter can come over for the weekend,” he said.

“When I came to St Pat’s I was at rock bottom but now I’ve got a new apartment, two volunteer jobs and I’ve sorted out my finances. Things are really looking up.”

Mr Baillie is one of a number of locals who has benefited from the NAHA, but the scheme’s future is uncertain after talks it could be cut in the May budget.

St Patrick’s chief executive Steve McDermott said they were concerned by remarks it might be abandoned.

“Without the support of these services, it’s very likely that AJ’s story would have had quite a different ending,” he said.