Helping new mothers find long-term stability

Launch Housing’s coordinated teams work to transition clients out of temporary accommodations into suitable and sustainable long-term housing.

Recently, the work of multiple Launch Housing teams enabled an end to Illili’s experience of homelessness in just two months. She is now settling into her secure, affordable accommodation where she will be able to raise her child, due this October. 

Illili’s story

“Home is everything. If you don’t have a house you can’t be settled.  I’m settled now.  I want other people to hear me, to see me…I want people to know about these things (services available), they have to know. When good people surround you, that means a lot, it means everything.”  

Illili arrived in Australia from Ethiopia on an orphan visa in 2015 when was she was just 17 years old. Since arriving she faced significant barriers to finding stable accommodation, living for a short period with her sister, then moving between friends’ houses, a stressful experience of uncertainty:  

“I wasn’t settled moving between family and friends. They don’t want you to stay long because they’ve got their own life and they don’t know how to support you. They’d ask ‘how long?’ and I wouldn’t know.” 

In mid-2022 Illili became pregnant and the father of her child cut off all communication with her. To make a difficult situation worse, Illili felt severely unwell, rendering her unable to work. She experience significant stress not knowing where to turn or if help was available. 

“I feel like I’m struggling, but I don’t know what is next? Always I’m asking myself, what is next, what is going to happen? I was worried about my pregnancy and not having any money.” 

Connecting with Launch Housing

Illili was aware of services available through Launch Housing from support her sister had received in the past, and in June 2022 Illili reached out for help at Launch Housing’s Collingwood Entry Point (IAP).

Once Illili’s situation had been assessed, teams worked rapidly to connect her with temporary accommodation and appropriate supports.

As a first step, Illili was referred to Launch Housing’s Pregnancy Outreach Team who provide advocacy, case management, and care for pregnant women experiencing homelessness. 

“I was really struggling, but after I saw Amy (Pregnancy Outreach Worker) and I talked to her, I felt a big relief.” 

Illili was then provided funding for temporary accommodation while waiting for a long-term housing option through Launch Housing’s Northern Outreach Team.

Advocating for urgent housing

Illili with Amy from Launch Housing’s Northern Outreach Team

Launch supported Illili with her immediate needs and applied to the Victorian Housing Register on her behalf to enable Illili to access permanent social housing.

As Illili’s public housing application outcome was uncertain and could take an extended period, Amy, her Pregnancy Outreach Worker referred her to the newly established Cornelia Program.

The Cornelia Program launched in April 2022 and provides pregnant women experiencing homelessness with a safe place to live, with support though maternity and early parenting services.

Within weeks of presenting to Launch Housing, Illili was accepted into the Cornelia Program.

“[It was] emotional. You don’t feel dependent on someone else, but you know someone cares about you. The people around me were very helpful. They had a lot of workers there for me– such nice people. I was so happy, feeling relieved and so much better.” 

A rapid permanent housing offer

On the same day Illili moved into her Cornelia Program accommodation, it was confirmed her application for permanent social housing was successful. 

“Suddenly they offered me this house. This was what I had been looking for, for a long time.”

Launch Housing teams moved quickly to coordinate Illili’s transition from Cornelia to her new housing, organising for her apartment to be set up with all the essential furniture and appliances she needed, including a crib and essentials for her baby. Items were supplied by both Launch Housing and with assistance from the Rotary Inner Melbourne Emergency Relief Network.

“Whenever someone gets a public housing offer, we’re always excited as it can take such a long time – sometimes up to 10 years. It was great we could set Illili up in her apartment before the baby came and that she and the baby would have everything they needed,” Amy said.  

Launch Housing’s cross-team collaboration enabled a rapid outcome for Illili.

“Everyone knows how quickly things need to happen sometimes, so that collaboration happens quite naturally. We were able to be flexible even though we’re working from different programs – we could each step in and provide Illili support at the right time.”

The impact for Illili

Illili’s support from Launch Housing provided a sense of safety and security desperately needed at a critical time, delivering a lifechanging outcome within just two months.   

For Illili, the biggest relief she experienced was in gaining stability and housing security for her future child which will help her to rebuild their lives and break the cycle of intergenerational homelessness.

“I can focus more on the baby and myself and not worry about housing, which is a big thing,” she said.