Having essentially become homeless overnight, Glenn Lillico has a friendly message for residents of the Illawarra.
“I just think if you see someone homeless, not to judge them,” he said.
“I’m homeless, I’ve worked all my life doing concreting… People should just stop and take their time for a minute to think about it.
“Don’t judge; there’s a story behind it, like my own story.
“You can have everything going good in your life one minute and be on the street the next.”
Mr Lillico, who turns 40 this year, has been sleeping rough for about six weeks.
He has been sleeping on City Beach, Wollongong in a tent provided by Wollongong Homeless Hub, where he is a regular visitor.
“I had a staph infection in my leg, so I lost my job, and I lost my place because I couldn’t afford to rent any more,” he said.
“I couldn’t go back to work and I nearly lost this leg. As quick as overnight sort of thing, I lost a lot of things and ended up on the street.
“Some kids burnt my tent down here last week… They burnt all my clothes and stuff in the tent.”
Mr Lillico has battled drug addiction, and slept rough “a couple of times, for short periods” in the past.
“This time that I’ve ended up on the street I’m actually clean from addiction, which has really surprised me.
“That’d be stuff that I’d think would happen when I was in addiction.”
He said the winter months presented additional health hazards for the homeless.
“I’ve been more sick in these past few months from being on the beach… And in winter the flu’s have lasted longer. I’ve never been told I’ve had asthma, but because I was sleeping down here on a mat, I’ve been told now I have to have a puffer.”
Mr Lillico said sharing accommodation with others wasn’t an option for him.
“I’m not putting down guest houses, but I can’t share with someone else, because if I share with someone else, you get two guys who are trying to recover from drugs sharing in a house, it don’t last long. I’ve been there before.”
On Friday, Mr Lillico said he was allowed to go back to work in two weeks’ time.
He has lined up a casual job and will be seeking to rent a “place to call home” for him and his children.
Mandy Booker, manager of Wollongong Emergency Family Housing & Wollongong Homeless Hub said winter exacerbated many of the health issues associated with homelessness.
“When you’re getting scripts, even when they’re reduced cost and you’ve got multiple scripts to fill, when you’ve got organisations that are on a tightly strung budget anyway, we need to be able to assist these guys to be able to fill those so that their health doesn’t keep deteriorating,” she said.