Homelessness in Canberra often closer to home than people think

When accounting graduate Sanda recently became homeless, he realised the world of opportunity that comes with tertiary education does not guarantee a secure future.

“Life is not like everything is planned,” he said.

The Sri Lankan-born man, who wished not to use his surname, graduated from university in Canberra.

But, like many others who find themselves sleeping rough or living on the street, he warned a few bad decisions or hard times could lead to anyone becoming homeless.

As the Canberra winter set in and temperatures plummeted, having a roof over his head became his priority.

It was a situation made worse without strong family or friendship connections — compounded with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Sanda had been “feeling alright” in the week he had been sober.

“If I have to stay on the road, I will go back to drinking,” he said.

Rather than drinking alcohol to keep warm, Sanda said he drinks multiple cups of coffee a day — mostly provided by the Uniting Church’s Early Morning Centre on Northbourne Avenue.

He had also taken advantage of their free breakfasts and hot showers in preparation for meetings to discuss securing permanent accommodation.

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