Homelessness Week 2021: Travis’s Story

Travis* has been homeless for 4 years. He shared his story with Uniting Transitioning from Homelessness team member, Josh.

“Six years ago I was pretty comfortable, had my business going. I was always 4, 5 figures in the bank, all the time. I did take a lot of things for granted towards the end there. I started living in the city because my workload was starting to get bigger, and my jobs ended up paying me more. The average job, I was making between $25,000 to $35,000 a job.

I’m ex-construction worker. Used to have my own business. Ex-contractor, brick-laying and landscaping. Got a couple of kids, all grown up. Pretty much I’ve got no family here, all my family’s in the country.”

“[I’m] trying to get back to where I was 4 years ago. Business was going pretty good there for a while, I was in some pretty big contracts. I moved into the city. At that stage, probably [after] about 6 months, I started using a little bit of the meth. Not much though, not hugely, but enough.

“I pulled a girl out of a drug house, because I felt like I needed to. She was getting abused, and I decided to basically invite her into my apartment and get a roof over her head. She had psychosis and she had a lot of demons. [She] got raped 5 times. Her mother killed herself in front of her at the age of 5.

So it was a big eye opener, but I concentrated more on her than I did myself. Basically, she liked the meth as well. Work dropped off a lot. I never really advertised, and my work was always word of mouth. I had a pretty good name out there.

But one thing led to another. I lost a couple of tools and then I lost my car, and that’s when it started to snowball. And then me and her split up because she needed to go on her way. She was on a journey. She needed to find some more answers for herself. I woke up and she was gone.

So that was really the start of it. I ended up, basically, sleeping out the front of the apartments where I was renting.

I’ve been able to walk through the streets, and walk through trouble, and probably be quite close to some pretty dangerous people. But I haven’t wanted to think about it that way.

I’ve always tried to stay true to myself. I refuse to have to look my shoulder. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what things happen to me, I refuse to bring myself to that level.”

“I always made a habit of moving around, never being in one place. I didn’t like staying in houses because I’d feel cornered. Yeah, I always make sure I was out in the open. Next to the water was always nice because one, it’s relaxing, and two, if I were to get mugged I could always run into the water. I’m a pretty good swimmer.

“You take those sort of steps, and I guess that made me feel safer because I was out in the open. But you sleep with one eye open. If something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. You can’t really stop it.

I’m pretty much just trying to get back into work. Obviously [I need] a base, a roof over my head because I can’t really start work until I’ve got a roof over my head. You know? I’m wasting the bosses time otherwise, and that’s not good. I’m trying to do as much research as possible, keeping my eyes open.

I’m lucky in one sense, I’ve got pretty good people beside me. Quite grateful for that. But then again things can turn around quickly too.

What I’m having troubles with is pretty much having that bridge. Basically in that first week, two weeks, in starting work… I’ve got [to have] some sort of bridge, some sort of roof over my head to take me over to my first pay.
That’s what I’m having problems with. I’m trying to do two things at once. I’m trying to have the roof over my head, and find work. I can’t do this without a roof over my head.

I’m more looking down the path of private renting. Because [shared accommodation] doesn’t take me away from certain things, you know? And to get back into work I need to be away from that.”

“I’m trying to take myself away from a lot of things at the moment. A [home] would give me that base. I mean that’s been the problem, not having that base. Just constantly lost clothes, bags. I’m just constantly losing things. I can’t hold onto anything. I have been careless, don’t get me wrong.

“I’ve met a good friend, I want to help her as well, but at the same time she needs a roof over her head too, to get her kids back. At the end of the day, if I was going to go private I’d want her and she would put money in as well. That would be a good thing as well.

I’ve been ringing up, but I’m trying to find private [rentals] and actually speak to the owner. If I have to I’ll go through real estate, but I’m really conscious of trying to get the money up as well. With private [rentals], if I don’t have money there, ready to actually pay out, then I won’t [get it]. I can’t present myself like that if I then turn around and go I haven’t got the money yet. It doesn’t fit their agenda. I wouldn’t be saying I was on Centrelink. They’ll turn around and go, hold on a minute.

What I take out of it really is I’ve learnt a lot. I don’t regret it. I know for a fact I’m getting back up there. Really, the way I look at it today, I lost a lot of business deals, I lost a lot of money, and I’ve always managed to recover and pick myself back up. This has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.

Once I do that goal, I’ll make sure I’ll hold onto it because it hasn’t been easy. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done.”

*Name has been changed to protect individual’s privacy.