The first tenants of Eveline House – Tasmania’s newest youth accommodation facility – have described their new home as “amazing”.
Eveline House in Devonport features 25 self-contained units, five of them purpose-built for people with disability. Tenants also have access to a laundry, gym, common areas, outdoor spaces and a games room.
“This is a vibrant place where young people are encouraged to build on their existing strengths and capabilities,” said Anglicare CEO Chris Jones speaking at a community event to launch the facility.
Eveline House is managed by Anglicare and provides tenants with safe, affordable housing, as well as opportunities to participate in community activities, education, employment and training.
Kyle Randall Reynders, 19, a student at The Don College was left struggling to find suitable accommodation after share-house arrangements fell through. “When I came to Eveline House I was awe-struck,” he said. “This place is in a league of its own. Not only the accommodation but the support around it, is just amazing. My unit is brand new so it’s pretty speccy looking”.
Kyle said since moving in, he had developed a daily schedule, was eating healthy meals and improving his fitness. “I’m sleeping better, getting up early and going for a run before breakfast,” he said. “After school I go straight to the gym”.
Kyle said he was glad to help out younger tenants who were living independently for the first time in their lives. “Everyone isn’t perfect when they first move out,” he said. “I completely understand where people might be getting stuck,” he said. “They’ll have to do things they might not know how to do. Cooking is a big one. Another thing is cleaning – people need support to get into a routine”.
He said the tenants at Eveline House were being supported with budgeting, transport, study, food preparation, and job applications. “This place feels like a launch pad to greater things,” he said.
21 year old Rowena Curtis agreed. “Having the workers here all the time is so convenient,” she said. “If you need to talk to someone, they’re here. I was sick recently and they got me into the doctor, and drove me there”.
Rowena said her experience of homelessness was unexpected and shattered her misconceptions. “I had been couch-surfing and then ended up at a shelter,” she said. “I was sure that I’d be sleeping with one eye open and all my stuff would be tucked under my bed. I was imagining scary, dirty people. It was nothing like that,” she said.
“Here at Eveline House, the community within the place is amazing,” Rowena said. “Everyone has different stories, different experiences – but what we share is that in some way or another we needed help”.
Rowena, who has a customer service position, plans to work her way up in the business. “I am taking it a step at a time,” she said. “I like interacting with people and preparing their food – it’s an essential we all need”.
Tenancies at Eveline House are for young people aged 16-24 years who are on a low income and eligible for social housing.
Earlier this year, Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot showed that for young people receiving Youth Allowance, there were no affordable rental options anywhere in Tasmania. An estimated 1600 Tasmanians are homeless each night. Nearly 4 in 10 people experiencing homelessness are younger than 25, and the demand for housing services is continuing to grow.
Chris Jones said Eveline House was a much-needed response to youth homelessness in the State. Anglicare also manages similar facilities in Launceston (Thyne House) and Hobart (Trinity Hill).
“No Tasmanian should have to worry about where they’ll sleep at night or how they’ll afford to eat,” said Chris. “Long term, affordable housing is foundational for people to fully participate in education, training and employment”.
“We are delighted to launch Eveline House – a facility made possible by the Tasmanian Government and many advocates in the North West – and look forward to seeing how the young people who live here will use their strengths and skills to contribute to this community”.