Forced out and back in four times in a fortnight

Groundhog day … Kellie Elliott and her daughter, Kiana, 2, in the hotel room for which they had to keep reapplying.WITH her two-year-old by her side, Kellie Elliott checks into a hotel room and lugs her suitcases up 62 stairs.
Nanjing Night Net

The 26-year-old was forced last month to seek help from the government to find a place to live after she left a troubled relationship. But over a two-week period, Ms Elliott said that she had to reapply for the same hotel room four times.

Each time, she had to pack her belongings when she left and unpack them on her return.

”It’s so emotionally and physically draining,” she said, after moving her bags up three floors, following her fourth application.

Ms Elliott’s social worker, Sage Saegenschnitter, said her clients now had to reapply for rooms in person every three days which impeded their search for employment and housing.

”It used be seven days, or at least five,” she said.

But the NSW government denied that it was forcing people to reapply for rooms more regularly as part of its tightening of the program’s management. A spokesman for the Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, said the length of time given to clients had always been determined case by case.

Each time she had to reapply for her room, Ms Elliott said she moved her bags out of the hotel and went to a Housing NSW office, where she had to demonstrate that she was actively looking for a house.

Once she was granted another three days’ accommodation, Ms Elliott would lug the suitcases up the 62 stairs and check into the same room.

The room has a sink and table but no separate kitchen, a window is permanently ajar and mother and child share a bathroom and shower with other guests.

Unzipping the suitcases now moves her daughter, Kiana, to tantrums, so Ms Elliott waits for her to go to preschool before unpacking.

“She’s been mucking up a lot since all this,” she said.

Ms Elliott’s latest application for more time in the hotel was denied after she received a family benefit tax payment from the federal government last month, which unexpectedly pushed her bank balance over the $1000 maximum threshold for receiving assistance from Housing NSW. This forced Ms Elliott to pay for another two weeks in the room herself. ”If I went and spent all the money up my arm, I’d be OK,” she said.

Ms Elliott paid $59 a night for the room, $40 less than Housing NSW is charged, she said. She planned to keep doing so until the money Centrelink deposited in her account was exhausted and she could apply again for housing assistance.

This week, however, Ms Elliott received some welcome news. A community housing organisation, funded by Housing NSW, found an apartment she could live in for the next three months.

”I’m happy,” she said. ”There’s no stairs here”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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