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Finding independence and happiness through community housing

3 min read
community housing

Joyce is an amputee who was diagnosed with a binomial sarcoma in her foot when she was 60. Within six weeks of diagnosis, Joyce had her leg amputated and has been living with this disability ever since. Lacking freedom and being heavily reliant on her daughter, Joyce realised there was a much better way to live life after visiting a friend in a Community Housing Limited unit.

Due to the challenges of mobility, Joyce was confined to her upstairs bedroom in a cosy apartment with her daughter. That changed when Joyce was accepted into a disability unit where she can live independently with space to swing her wheelchair around, easy access to tend to her garden and access to community activities.

“It’s empowering to not have to rely on people and I have a great community here. I have friends I can chat to and have a coffee whatever the need is. I can live on my own. It’s easy,” says Joyce.

Can you outline a particularly stressful experience that you’ve had in dealing with accessibility issues in your past home/s?

Before Community Housing Limited, I was living with my daughter and her family, there was seven of us in total living in the smaller unit. I struggled with access around the home, the bathroom door wouldn’t shut properly, and I couldn’t use my wheelchair comfortably in the bathroom because it was too small.

It was an old house built in the 60s with wide concrete handles that were falling to pieces. I never felt safe holding onto them and getting around the house. There were five steps at the front to get into the house and four steps to go out into the backyard. I had a scare on the steps one day, so I couldn’t go in the backyard. I would go outside only if it was absolutely necessary, which is pretty sad as I love sitting in the sun.

Can you describe the moment you realised that there is a way for you to gain your independence back with the support you received?

I initially moved into a Community Housing Limited unit because I was in a relationship with someone who was a tenant. I ended up getting my own unit on the ground floor there because I couldn’t visit him in his unit as there was 20 stairs to see him.

As soon as I moved into the unit, I was so relieved. I was able to raise a vege garden and tend to it each day. The bathroom was large with laundry inside which made it very accessible and easy to do these things independently. The whole area is accessible with no steps and sliding doors to both yards outside, I can sit and enjoy the sun without feeling unsafe or exposed.

How has Community Housing Limited helped you gain independence?

Because of Community Housing Limited (CHL), I’ve been able to live in a unit that makes me feel safe because it’s disability-friendly and everything I need is easily accessible. I have a disabled car park for myself right outside, I’m able to leave my unit, drive and get groceries independently because I’m able to make it to the door quickly from the car, grab my wheelchair and bring the groceries in from the car myself.

What are the differences in your living condition now compared to one before which has made being independent a lot easier for you?

Aside from the unit, there’s a great community here of CHL tenants who are there for you and welcome you. We have Christmas parties and BBQs and it’s great to have the opportunity to talk to people.

Do you have any words of advice for fellow people living with disabilities?

  • Explore all the options that are available to you
  • Look on the internet and do your research for organisations that provide advice for people with disabilities and senior citizen groups about disability
  • Utilise whatever you can to make your life
  • Research help, the state government offers a program called SWEP and they’re providing me with a new wheelchair this  I learnt about them during my rehabilitation at Saint Vincent’s Hospital.
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Lourdes Antenor is an experienced writer who specialises in the not-for-profit sector and its affiliations. She is the content producer for Third Sector News, an online knowledge-based platform for and about the Australian NFP sector.


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