Zayne has spent years living unhoused and with addiction. He came to us after 15 months in prison, and was planning on moving to Queensland to live with his grandmother – but COVID-19 border restrictions quickly made that plan impossible.  

Zayne knew homelessness would push him back into his addiction and make selling drugs more likely. He needed a place to stay.

Zayne’s case manage was able to help. After talking with Zayne,  we negotiated an extension to his ReConnect support package from one month to six, to give us more time to find him a long-term home. Our case manager picked Zayne up on his day of release, and went with him to Salvos Connect, which is the housing entry point in Geelong – where Zayne’s two children live. Together, we were able to set Zayne up with a week’s accommodation at a motel.

Our case manager spoke to Zayne about using the Flatmates website to find a house. Zayne wasn’t convinced – he said he wanted to stay with people he already knew, and opened up to his case manager about his history of homelessness.

Three years ago, Zayne was living with his e-partner and their two children. Zayne was holding down a job, but using heroin, and the relationship was breaking down. After Zayne was found passed out in the carpark of his daughter’s childcare, Child Protection had opened a case with the family. Zayne’s criminal record meant he was deemed an unfit carer, and was directed to find another place to live. He buried his grief and shame with drugs and fake friends, and started drifting between caravan parks, motels, backyard sheds and abandoned houses. There was always a place to crash, but there was always drugs and conflict. Zayne wanted out, but he couldn’t see a way.

He agreed to try something different.

Zayne created an account on Flatmates, to try and find new people to live with. He told his case manager he felt almost paralysed with anxiety and panic over finding a place to stay, and expected no landlord to accept him. He was waiting for the day he’d be told to leave the motel, and started creating a mental map of all the known squat houses he could settle into. Riddles with angst and self-pity, Zayne was returning to the cynical mindset that told him he was better off on the streets.

Zayne’s case manager helped him upgrade his Flatmates account, which meant he could call and text people directly. Together, they trawled listings and send messages to hosts. After many messages and days waiting – during which Zayne extended his motel stay – he found an affordable, furnished room in a share house. His case manager went with him to the inspection. Zayne was so nervous he couldn’t find the words to engage in conversation, but made a good enough impression that he was asked to make a formal application for the room. Our case manager organised with Corrections Victoria to access additional funding allocated for COVID-19, which meant Zayne could afford the bond for the room if his application were successful.

Zayne applied for the room and got it. He was approved for a 12-month lease starting the following Monday. He was relieved. For now, the search was over.

Our case manager helped organise groceries and bedding for Zayne’s new house, and helped him move in. As they sat outside together, Zayne said he’d lived transiently for so long he hadn’t thought a tenancy possible. But now, he has his own place for a full year. Securing a house isn’t the end of his story – but it’s a new beginning.

More information about VACRO's reintegration support