Barry called Temora home for much of his life.
Born and bred in the Riverina town located five hours from Sydney, the Vietnam veteran moved around Australia after fulfilling his national service before returning to settle down on the eve of retirement.
Spending the past 13 years re-establishing roots in the community while living in the private rental market, Barry was handed a rude shock in the wake of his landlord selling the house he had come to know as his home.
“I went through all the real estate agents in Temora and there was only one place with two bedrooms for $270 per week,” said Barry.
“I’m on an age pension of $540 a fortnight which makes that sort of cost out of my league –that was the only place available in the whole town.”
Seeking alternative accommodation down the South Coast only to come up against steeper prices – “$320 for a one-bedroom unit” – a call to Veteran Affairs in his time of need led to a lifeline from Vinnies.
Offered a place to stay at Edel Quinn, a crisis accommodation and case management service predominantly supporting men at risk or experiencing homelessness in the Wagga Wagga region, the shock of being priced out of his own hometown made real the housing crisis faced by thousands of people living on low incomes.
“Accommodation is so scarce; I couldn’t believe it.
“If it wasn’t for St Vincent de Paul I wouldn’t have a roof over my head or anywhere to sleep.
“The greatest worry when you’re renting is ‘will I still be here in ten years time’ because as you get older, slower and weaker you’ve got to turn around and pack all the furniture up again.
“There’s nothing worse than packing up and moving from one place to the next – it’s very depressing and expensive.”
Currently working with the case management team at Edel Quinn to find a new place to live, Barry is looking forward to a future where he can plan beyond one day at a time.
“Vinnies have been wonderful – I get three meals a day, my own room, the TV room where I can have a cup of tea – I’m fortunate that such a place like this exists.
“I’ve got all my own furniture in storage here in Wagga, hopefully when I get out of here I can get it out and put it in permanent accommodation.”