Twins find housing and support in Toowoomba
- Last updated:
- 21 August 2023 11:22AM
- First published:
- 28 July 2023 11:35AM
“I wasn’t going to survive long. I cried 10-15 times a day. You do need a stable home.”
64-year-old Leon and his twin brother Warren found themselves suddenly homeless when after 20 years of renting their home, their landlord decided not to renew their lease.
The men had lived more than half their lives on the Gold Coast but, with escalating rental prices, couldn’t find anywhere on the coast they could afford.
Leon said, “Everything was so expensive. We were looking at places that were $800 a week and we’d say ok. Then someone would come along and say, ‘We’ll pay $900’.”
The brothers finally found a caravan park at Oakey, near Toowoomba, and the men decided they’d have to relocate.
However, when they arrived, they quickly learned the rent at the park was increasing by $200 a week and so, after just a few weeks, had no option but to sleep in the car.
“We had our things in the back so literally had to sleep in the front seats. For Warren this was extremely painful,” Leon said.
Warren has significant health issues as a result of cancer. He has a heart condition, his lungs are damaged, and he suffers constant pain from a massive hernia that developed after surgery. Sleeping in a car made his pain worse. The stress of their housing situation also took its toll on Leon’s mental health.
After three days sleeping in their car, they were told about the Toowoomba Housing Hub, where the Toowoomba Housing Service Centre and other non-government organisations deliver a range of integrated services under one roof that work together to support vulnerable people like Leon and Warren.
At the Hub, they met Housing officer Anita. Anita is also a twin and Leon says this somehow helped them feel a bit more settled.
Anita recalls that first meeting vividly. She said, “Both men were quite anxious and upset when they arrived. Then Warren started sweating and experiencing chest pain. He was having a heart attack. We called an ambulance, and Warren was taken to hospital.”
The men have only been apart three days in their lifetime, so Anita and housing colleague Jodi found a motel for Leon just a five-minute walk from the hospital.
Anita and Jodi worked with other organisations to help Leon and Warren obtain clothing, food hampers and vouchers and linked them with Beyond Blue for ongoing support with their mental health.
“We helped them complete a social housing application and after liaising with a number of community housing providers, Warren and Leon were accepted for a long-term two-bedroom property with funded provider, Yellowbridge,” Anita said.
Warren and Leon love their new place. Leon said, “The people at the Hub were fantastic. It took about seven months to get used to being in a new city and a new home. Now we’re used to it we’re calmer, and we’re getting help so we can relax more. It’s nicer up here than the Gold Coast.”
The brothers continue to visit the Hub and pop in to say hi to Anita and Jodi. Leon is also working with a personal support worker from Momentum mental health service to develop strategies to cope better. He said, “Having a permanent place helps with that stress. If I can improve enough, I would like to volunteer, to give back even the tiniest little bit.”