The impact of social housing and support under one roof

Social housing is critical to provide safety and stability for people unable to access or afford the private rental market.

For Pablo, a combination of social housing paired with appropriate supports from Launch Housing enabled extraordinary positive changes including reconnection with family, recovery from drug addiction, reengagement with employment and freedom to enjoy life through music and social connection.

Pablo’s Story

“My journey isn’t a journey of perfection, it’s one of resilience. I don’t see myself as a criminal anymore. I don’t see myself as a drug addict anymore.”

Two years ago, Pablo was released from prison. He describes the past 8 years as some of the worst of his life – marked by significant loss, trauma, crime, and a crippling heroin addiction which masked profound grief.

Growing up, Pablo experienced significant challenges and awareness of a difference from his siblings – feeling like he was a “pain in the bum” to his family. Sadly, he was just 15 years old when he came across a dangerous form of relief from the symptoms of what would be in his adulthood diagnosed as ADHD.

“When I met heroin…that was like everything in one deal. It enabled me to concentrate to hold a conversation and do a lot of things. At the same time it got me into the wrong crowd.”

Pablo describes he was living as a “functioning addict” for most of his young adult life until experiencing two significant losses – the breakdown of his marriage with the mother of his children, then the loss of a new love, who passed away unexpectedly at his home.

“That sent me a downhill spiral of my last 10 years. I hid behind my drug use and basically had to live a criminal life to be able to afford my drug use.”

Pablo spent periods in and out of incarceration for 8 of his past 10 years. In the periods out of prison, he experienced homelessness.

Connecting with Launch Housing

When Pablo exited prison two years ago, he was required to undertake a Drug Treatment Order and was referred to Launch Housing for accommodation support. He moved into Launch Housing’s Southbank Crisis Accommodation for holistic support.

“From the beginning I took the Order seriously. The best way for me to stay clean would be in supported accommodation or where I was at Launch in Southbank because of my mental health.”

In 2021 Pablo engaged with Launch Housing’s Justice Housing and Support Program– a housing and support program designed to reduce homelessness and re-offending among people sentenced to Drug Treatment Orders. He was provided rental accommodation in Brunswick, head-leased by Launch Housing.

“That was good because it felt more real than living in hotels, you know, it felt more like my own place. It was also important for me to move away from the St Kilda area. I’m less likely to run into my old haunt or into old friends or people from my past life. And that was exactly my worker’s plan. They wanted to keep me local, but away from my old area.”

Pablo says his relationships with his Launch Housing workers were significant as he could share his thoughts and concerns with them without judgement.

“Even when I haven’t agreed with my case manager, I’ve always felt that they knew what was best for me. With my Launch Housing worker, I could be honest and open with her and, and not be judged.”

Ongoing wrap-around support

In April 2022, as Pablo progressed toward the end of his Drug Treatment Order, his workers secured a permanent home for him within a Launch Housing owned social housing property in Coburg, providing long term stability with support. Having access to different types of properties enabled us to be flexible and supportive in helping Pablo find a suitable and affordable home.

Pablo describes this holistic support in all aspects of his life as helping him to get back on his feet and settle into his permanent home.

“When I think back on all the things that everybody helped me with, it wasn’t just one. It wasn’t just helping me organise my bills. It was also my connection with my kids, my connection with my grandkids, my ability to keep my place tidy and so many things that are important. It’s all those things that I really learned with my [Launch Housing] worker, including making my place only mine. That was the help that I needed.”

Pablo has now been living in his permanent home for 4 months and, just this September, graduated from his Drug Treatment Order.

“[My home] It’s my little castle, isn’t it? Yeah. Simple as that. It’s where I’m safe. It’s where my grandson is safe. It’s where my granddaughter is safe. It’s where me and my grandkids can pitch a tent in the living room and make pizzas on Saturday night and watch a movie on the telly. My place is everything to me. Having that security helps my mental health.”

The impact for Pablo

For Pablo, the combination of affordable housing paired with Launch Housing support has enabled extraordinary positive changes including his reconnection with family, recovery from drug addiction, reengagement with the work force and freedom to enjoy life through music and connection.

“I can work out my problems here and look after myself. It’s important that my house is secure, and affordable, so my rent doesn’t take up 80% of my income. It’s not only about affordable housing…I had to go through all the steps I went through with my worker to get to the positive place I’m in now.”

“I don’t see myself as a criminal anymore. I don’t see myself as a drug addict anymore. Once my life became stable, I could make the decision to stop using drugs, to do something about it.”

“I don’t need the amount of support that I previously had. And what’s more, I don’t necessarily want it because I want my own space.”

Pablo’s home is critical to keeping him on track and has enabled him to secure and maintain work at a warehouse (accessed through a partnership with Launch Housing and CoAct). His boss provides flexible work arrangements and has been understanding of Pablo’s court responsibilities.

“This job has changed my life in many ways. Mainly to have that feeling that I’m contributing and that I have something to offer – that I can work and I can pay taxes and I can contribute and I can be part of a team.

Pablo says his newfound stability is enabling him to better engage with his community and the past two years have been a journey of reconnection with family and friends.

“I’m in the position where I can invite my daughter out to dinner…and it’s really nice to get a call from my son and hear “Hey dad, you wanna go watch, Collingwood play Carlton this weekend?” It’s nice to get those phone calls.”