HOMELESSNESS is something that Roxanne Hill-Curlie remembers all too well.
At 22, she became one of thousands facing the prospect of living rough.
Now 29, a proud homeowner and working as a Salvos store manager, she knows how easy it is to become homeless and wants to educate people to show support for anyone who finds themselves in the undesirable circumstance.
Roxanne moved to Perth from Broome in 2011 but after not having her rental renewed and unable to find new accommodation quick enough, she and her best friend became homeless.
After a few days of couch surfing and sleeping in the car, they decided to squat in an unused fishing shack.
“There was no power or running water connected and it was 50m from the water of Cockburn Sound, so it was extremely cold during those winter months, but it was our safe haven,” she said.
“We would sleep in bed huddled together wearing as many clothes as possible; multiple pants, jumpers and gloves, beanies and a scarf became our regular pyjamas.”
Roxanne began volunteering at the Salvation Army store in Cannington as part of Work for the Dole and worked weekends as a barmaid.
She and her friend shared single meals.
“We were fortunate enough to have shelter, but without access to power or refrigeration it’s very difficult to plan accordingly and eat properly,” she said.
“We were still looking for and applying to agencies to secure a rental property, but with no current address, minimal or no rental references and making below minimum wage, we never really had a chance.”
After seven months of being homeless, Roxanne was hired as a casual assistant with the Salvation Army and not long after was able to secure a rental property.
“Being homeless was tough but I was fortunate to be homeless with my best friend, so we had each other for support and company,” she said.
“After months of applying for rentals and jobs it began to get very demoralising. It’s a vicious cycle – no one wants to hire you or rent to you when you’re homeless, but these are two things essential to getting back on track.”
A year after finding a rental Roxanne was promoted to a store manager within the Salvation Army stores, knuckled down for a year, saved money for a deposit and bought a house with her sister.
“Having somewhere to live and being employed not only gave me a sense of direction, but the ability to ensure I wouldn’t have to face homelessness again,” she said.
“I think there’s a lack of education around homelessness. For those who meet someone homeless – have compassion. Sometimes all they might need is for someone to take a chance on them.”