Tenant Jake in from of his home in Newcastle NSW

If it wasn’t for Home in Place, Jake says he doesn’t know where he would be right now.

The 23-year-old father of one is now working while he completes a Certificate 1V in Community Services. He and his partner will marry next year, and they are living with their son in a two-bedroom Home in Place apartment in a suburb in Newcastle. His partner is working and studying nursing at the University of Newcastle.

Life wasn’t like this for Jake a couple of years ago. He and his partner were homeless for six months; sleeping on the streets and on trains or couch surfing.

“We were very young when we had our child,” Jake says. “We had no idea about how to rent or run a house and struggled with the responsibility of family life,” he says.

“I went down the wrong path and developed alcohol and other addiction issues.”

Home in Place got Jake and his partner into emergency accommodation and then transitional accommodation at This Way Home – a unique service it runs, in partnership with other Newcastle non-government organisations, to help people experiencing homelessness who want to sustain a private or social housing tenancy.

The temporary accommodation changed our lives for the better. We were both able to get work and start to save, to get our lives back on track. Having a roof over your head is the first thing you need if you want to focus on other parts of your life. It is so important for your physical and mental health too.

Beating his addictions, and with money coming in, Jake and his partner then moved into their longer-term rental, with their son.

Jake is determined to help other vulnerable people because he has been in their shoes.

Remembering how not having a licence made getting food and other essentials difficult, Jake approached local businesses for donations of food.

“The support from people was amazing. We were able to deliver hampers, feed everyone at This Way Home, as well as some women’s refuges and other community service organisations.”

Spurred on by seeing the difference he made, Jake has set up a Facebook group called Take Control. He wants to use Take Control to continue to provide food hampers but also to offer a supportive community and mentoring.

“I want to share my story to empower other vulnerable people to take control of their life.

“It is daunting and not always easy, but you can take control back, one little step at a time. There is support out there from organisations like Home in Place.

“They are not just like a real estate agent. They have encouraged me and been a support network. Everyone there has always treated me with respect, understanding and courtesy.”