A place to call home offers new hope for homeless

HOWARD SCALES had lost track of how long he had been homeless, or “sleeping rough”.
Nanjing Night Net

Three months ago, Wentworth Community Housing and other agencies were able to house him in a unit in Werrington.

“When they found me this place, I had four T-shirts, four pairs of socks and one pair of jeans,” the 50-year-old said.

“Once I get established here I can look for work.”

He said the other great thing about having a home was being able to sleep soundly.

“When you’re ‘sleeping rough’ you never sleep, unless you’re with other people,” Mr Scales said.

“You’re scared someone will come up and mug you.

“People look down on you then; but we’ve all had jobs, we’ve all worked for a living.”

He blamed Housing NSW for expecting homeless people to be able to keep track of time and appointments, when day-to-day living posed such challenges for them.

“When you’re homeless you can’t always answer their questions or be where they want you to be; there’s got to be some leeway,” he said.

Mr Scales said homeless people managed to find hiding places, even in broad daylight, but even then worry about who might come along.

“You check the place out for needles, in case someone doing drugs will show up,” he said.

“You’re worried about people coming into your space because you don’t know who they are or what they might do.

“You never really sleep; it’s one eye and one ear open.”

He said food was another daily problem.

“We’d find out where the Salvos were or anywhere else we could get a meal,” Mr Scales said.

“Whatever I got from St Vinnies on a Friday night I kept some of it, in case I couldn’t get anything to eat on the weekend.”

He said as many 250 people slept rough in Penrith on any given night.

“Some ride in trains at night just to keep warm; one guy I knew went up to Newcastle and came back on the same train,” he said.

Mr Scales said he eventually found a home because he never gave up and also because workers from Wentworth Community Housing were always there for him.

He said he was glad he could put such experiences behind him, but he would keep in touch with friends he made on the streets and do what he could to help them.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.