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What's It Like to Live on the Streets

Homelessness is living on the streets, on a friend’s couch, in your car and anywhere that makes you transitional. Some people end up that way because life gets too hard and giving up seems to be the easiest option. There are agencies out there but you think they might be too busy to help. You should be able to take care of yourself, why would someone want to help you?

When you’re a kid on the streets, it’s a lot more fun. You don’t need to take responsibility and you can run amuck. If it gets cold or you’re hungry, give the police some trouble and you end up soaking in the luxuries of juvenile detention, which in some Australian places, feels more like a summer camp than a penitentiary built to doll out punishment.

According to, 105,000 Australians are homeless on any given night!

But what does it feel like?

The cold passage of Forrest Chase’s General Post Office drips cold water from the dark clouds, setting in like depression. The chilly gusts of wind penetrate my clothes. Hunger rumbles through my stomach as I watch some litter dancing in the wind. The alcohol I rely on makes my body shiver as I yearn for more to dull the stages of drying out, my body weak and idle. I have no possessions, no blankets, just the things I see and feel. I yearn for the summer, the bright sunshine burning heat through my clothes and soaking me with happiness.

Life becomes joyous when it’s warm and happy, no time for depression. It’s drink after drink with regular street feeds and more friends coming out from the hostels, where they’ve been hibernating through the long winter periods. Camp fires and bottles of bourbon, cheerful atmospheres and nice cool swims in the oceans.

The police come out in force in the summer. Like parades of ants, wanting to take control of the streets. Moving us on and closing down squats which have sheltered some of us all winter long. After several move on notices and policies in place to deal with vagrants like us who litter the precious tourist environments, it gets to a point where locking us up is the best thing for us.

A 16 year old homeless girl sleeps under the Causeway Bridge in Perth, Western Australia with dog Tank
A 16 year old homeless girl sleeps under the Causeway Bridge in Perth, Western Australia with dog Tank

The Magistrate with his grey hair and bulky black rimmed glasses, peers down from the high bench. We’re at the bottom of society’s food chain, fines and middle-class punishments are no use to us. Jail is the best available option.

The cold bars slam home in the small cell, which offers protection against the dangers of society. Three feeds a day with a warm bed and shower. Amidst the hierarchies of armed robbers, prostitutes and drug dealers, the violent thieves who want to punch our head in for our share of cordial. Perhaps it’s safer in here but after a few weeks, it’s back on the streets and the cycle begins. There’s no point in putting your name down for a Homeswest House. It takes two years to get anywhere and there’s always people jumping the queue, popping out kids left, right and centre. So what do you do? That’s why I call the streets home.

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