'Humiliation' of life on the streets in Wollongong

Garry, with his companion, Obi, says life is a constant struggle without a home. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Garry, with his companion, Obi, says life is a constant struggle without a home. Picture: ROBERT PEET

"It's like you're at the end of the world. It's so easy to go off the edge and fall into a crevasse. I'm still trying so hard to get out."

Garry, from Wollongong, knows all too well the struggles faced by the homeless. Having spent time in jail and battling substance abuse issues, Garry has found himself homeless several times in his life. Now living in his own apartment and having stayed clean for 12 months, Garry shared his story with the Mercury during Homeless Person's Week.

"It's the little things people take for granted. I would get said 'no' to by a lot of people because it's hard to keep on top of yourself when you're homeless, things like having a shower or combing your hair," he said.

"There is this humiliation in asking for help, which I needed desperately."

After a stint in jail, Garry found himself without a place to call home. He "always pushed the envelope, always managed to find emergency housing" but times in between were tough.

"It's hard to find yourself in the world without help. I wouldn't wish it on anyone," he said.

"I was trying hard but sometimes the rewards don't come and you start wondering why."

Garry has since been granted public housing in Wollongong but his problems are not over. He accidentally put his right hand through a glass window recently, when he interrupted a burglar breaking into his unit.

He said he would be unable to use that hand for up to two years and, already straining to make ends meet, his piling medical bills were enough to push him over the edge.

He once sold his television to pay vet bills for his dog, Obi.

"I can't afford scripts. It's daunting to get on top of everything, there is despair at every end," Garry said.

"I don't owe any money to anyone but I don't have much. Any unexpected expenses cut to the bone.

"I'm not feeling sorry for myself, it's just realising the implications of my situation."

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