Waverly Gazette

14 December 1999, p4

Unlikely victim of homelessness

Waverley Gazette (Melbourne)

Marcus was the picture of success. At 40 years old, he had it all: a family, a nice house and a $100,000-a-year job in the information technology field.

But earlier this year, his world turned upside down when his partner of more than 15 years unexpectedly walked out with children.

Devastated and depressed, Marcus (not his real name) sold or gave away his remaining possessions, and lost his job because he was unable to function.

Within months he was homeless and isolated, sleeping in a car that was about to be repossessed.

While some people offered limited support, others told him to "get over it".

"People think people who are homeless are either alcoholics or kids who have been thrown out of the house," Marcus said.

"They don't think of the successful businessman earning over $100,000 a year who, in a period of two months, ends up living in their car. And to be quite honest, neither did I.

"There is no way I thought a person like me would end up where I am (but) you don't know what to do when everything falls down around your ears. All I'd like people to know is that it can happen to them, too."

After three weeks of living in the car, a friend took Marcus home and used the Internet to try to find him accomodation. But the search was frustrating.

Some agencies had no vacancies, others were closed, catered for women or young people only or suggested the accomodation was unsuitable.

Finally, the Supporting Homeless Individuals and Families in Transition program came to the rescue. Marcus was placed in crisis housing then moved to a housing co-operative unit in Glen Waverley four weeks later.

The program also arranged medical supervision and treatment for depression, psychiatric counselling, financial and legal advice on issues such as benefits, child support and custody. Marcus is now slowly rebuilding his life.