Housing offer creates brighter future for 65-year-old Cliff Moxon

Cliff confirms the difference a warm, safe home can make

For the first time in three years, Cliff Moxon now sleeps through the night.

He says it is the warmth that comes with being in a house that has been one of the biggest improvements to his nights.

Mr Moxon moved into a public housing unit in Redan three weeks ago after living in his caravan for three years.

The 65-year-old found himself homeless after a marriage breakdown and bought a caravan with his savings.

He reached out to housing support agency Uniting earlier this year with only $90 left in his bank account.

It is the first time I have ever had to ask for help, ever. It is not an easy thing.

Cliff Moxon

He could no longer pay the weekly caravan park rent and feared he would end up sleeping rough.

Mr Moxon said moving into the public housing unit had changed his life and his view of his future.

"I sleep straight through now. It is crazy," he said. "I was getting up three to four times an evening in the van. I thought I was a diabetic but it was the cold.

"There was no space in the van. Here it is warm."

Mr Moxon said his health had improved as he now had better cooking and food storage facilities compared to in his caravan.

He said his petrol costs had dropped dramatically no longer having to drive to the shops from the caravan park.

"It is more stable. I am more at ease. I know where I am at," he said.

"In the van, the dollars were dwindling real quickly and it is sort of an uncertainty. I have hopefully gone above that now."

NEW HOME: 65-year-old Cliff Moxon is feeling positive about his future now he is living in a house. He sought help after running out of savings and spending three years living in a caravan. Pictures: Lachlan Bence

NEW HOME: 65-year-old Cliff Moxon is feeling positive about his future now he is living in a house. He sought help after running out of savings and spending three years living in a caravan. Pictures: Lachlan Bence

Housing agency Uniting Ballarat supported Mr Moxon afford to stay at the caravan park for a few weeks while they helped him to set up his Centrelink payments and apply for public housing.

Acting coordinator of housing and homelessness Adam Liversage said Mr Moxon's case was the quickest turnaround he had seen, taking only three weeks from the time of application until he was offered a house.

Mr Liversage said rough sleepers were the highest priority group for housing placements and there was usually a higher turnover in housing for people over 55.

"We have advocated for Cliff as he has no alcohol and drug or mental health issues or antisocial behaviours," he said.

"It is quite a good fit for the Department of Housing to put someone like Cliff in here. It was a no brainer for them."

Around 3000 people are currently on the public housing waiting list in the Central Highlands region.

Mr Moxon's journey to housing is a good news story, as many people can wait years before they are offered a housing placement due to the shortage of housing stock.

"Even though we don't always get the outcomes we desire, this is why we do what we do," Mr Liversage said.

"It is nice to visit Cliff to get a gentle reminder these are the outcomes.

"Street 2 Home has come across just over 600 people in its two and a half years and we have had 66 housing offers. That is a lot of offers, but that is over 500 who haven't got housing yet.

"The solution is more social housing, more affordable housing and private investment in housing."

Uniting's Street 2 Home team will continue to support Mr Moxon in his transition to housing.

Street 2 Home assertive outreach worker Juelz Sanders said staff could continue to support clients once they were housed for up to two years.

"It is about housing but then helping to support them in that housing, especially when they haven't been in housing for so long," she said.

"Some of our clients need that extra bit of help.

"We have had some who can't even sleep in the bed for the first little while because they haven't slept in a bed for so long.

"They might sleep next to the bed or drag their mattress into the lounge room because that is what they are used to.

"There is sometimes lots of adjusting that needs to happen. That is what the supportive housing team through Street 2 Home is for."

Mr Moxon will receive continued support from an occupational therapist and plans to begin voluntary work at Uniting Ballarat op shops when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

His future now looks bright, but looking back, he says he should have sought help earlier.

Ms Sanders said asking for help was easier said than done when many people did not know the help is available or felt it damaged their pride.

"It is the first time I have ever had to ask for help, ever. It is not an easy thing," Mr Moxon said.

"I would like to thank them all for helping me. I appreciate it."

If you are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, you can ring the 24-hour Victorian hotline for assistance on 1800 825 955.

This story Cliff confirms the difference a warm, safe home can make first appeared on The Courier.