Francesca’s story in her own words:
"I have just moved into my new community housing apartment and want to tell you how much I am really LOVING being in my own place after SO many years of renting and living in pretty awful conditions.
"I had been staying with friends during 2008, but had to move due to overcrowding and looked around for rental in Elwood where I saw a filthy and damaged apartment for $300.00 a week. The owner refused to repair or clean the apartment for me, and rented it to someone who was even more desperate than me!
"I then was told about a website for people who want to share. I managed to find an apartment in East St Kilda to share for $160.00 a week. Unfortunately I discovered that I would be sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other people!! I had no other choice but to take it.
"I am a 58 yo teacher/actor who came to Australia 28 years ago (best thing I ever did ). I have lived in Sydney and Perth and decided to come to Melbourne as I had heard it was much better for theatrical bods like me to make contacts. I have been doing a lot of work in profit share productions, which usually means the earnings are profit share of nothing. For me it is the challenge of the role and the production that satisfies, not the money.
"Melbourne has certainly looked after me in that respect. The accommodation side of things has not been so good however.
"I work as an ESL teacher to pay the rent and as you can imagine, on my wages the kinds of places I was living in were not in the style to which I would like to be accustomed! Kennels and dogs and swinging cats come to mind. The rent and standards over the years have definitely deteriorated in Melbourne. I was becoming convinced that I would not be able to find a place I wanted to settle in for a decent amount of time. I would always only take a lease for a year, at most, and leave thinking I could find something better, only to find the situation had worsened! I found myself really compromising my situation and settling for less than I would have expected.
"After placing my name on the waiting list, I cannot tell you how amazed I was when I was phoned by Port Phillip Housing Association offering me an apartment, and was told the rent and conditions of the lease.
"The paintwork and the cleanliness of the tiles, blinds and the kitchen area…ad infinitum! I became a bit of a drama queen and let a few tears fall on the pristine carpet. I have been here four days and feel like I have been put up in a very nice hotel when on tour with a theatre company.
"I so enjoy now having a garden after living on top floors. Being on the ground floor enables me to feel grounded for the first time in years! The area is quiet and very near lovely parks. I am walking daily to the trams so getting a good bit of exercise, which is a good thing.
"Everyday I stroke the walls and say ‘thank you Port Phillip Housing’ for finding my HOME for me. For the first time in YEARS I can go home and feel that I have an anchor and a place to call my own."
With love and gratitude,