Determining the number of homeless people in Macarthur is no easy feat.
Walking the streets at night counting the number of rough sleepers doesn’t provide a true reflection of the local homeless community.
“Here you don’t see rough sleepers like you do in the city,” the Department of Human Services’ Cathy Chopping said.
“You have couch surfers and people sleeping in cars. It’s mainly hidden homelessness in Macarthur.”
While it may be hard to determine the exact number of homeless, the turnout at the Macarthur Homeless Hub on Friday, June 16, showed there were many local people who had fallen on hard times.
More than 30 services and organisations gathered at Campbelltown Civic Centre for the event in an effort to connect with local homeless people and help them get back on their feet.
The Advertiser witnessed at least 30 people and several families reach out for help at the event.
Richard Ndlova knows first-hand what it’s to be on the streets.
The 52-year-old split with his partner five years ago but they continued to live under the same roof with their 10-year-old daughter, until the situation became strained in September last year.
Mr Ndlova decided it was time to leave the house.
For the next six months – and throughout one of the hottest summers on record – he slept in his non-roadworthy car which was permanently parked behind the HJ Daley Library in Campbelltown.
“I couldn’t sleep properly,” he said.
“I used to sleep with the door open (due to the heat).
“I did whatever I could for food – I ate whatever I could get.”
It was an isolating experience. Connecting with people and breaking the cycle proved to be a mammoth task.
Mr Ndlova would apply for jobs and leave his phone number, but it made it difficult for prospective employers to contact him when his phone was cut off.
The cost involved for travelling to an interview was also a major stumbling block – until he made contact with the Ms Chopping in March.
Ms Chopping put him in contact with people from other organisations involved with the Macarthur Homeless Steering Committee.
First there was Mission Australia’s Elizabeth Crystal who tried unsuccessfully to get Mr Ndlova a room in a boarding house.
Then there was Neami National’s Brock Millan who found Mr Ndlova crisis accommodation.
Finally Argyle Community Housing’s Alana Afoa became involved and helped the 52-year-old find more permanent accommodation.
Mission Australia also came on board once again and provided the money for the bond.
The quartet also applied to the Macarthur Homeless Steering Committee for funding to get Mr Ndlova’s car back on the road.
Mr Ndlova still spends many of his days and night in a car – but now it’s as a taxi driver.