The Hunter people who live in cars

IF you’re living in a car, it’s widely agreed, the fear is being noticed.

Every night in Hunter parking lots near beaches, public toilets, just back from the glow of houses, a scene plays on weary repeat. Old family sedan, blankets and clothes piled in the back. The occupant slumped up front, wired from waiting out the day, awake. Inhale, exhale…

“It’s the crowds, the people. You see them between cars, stumbling around and making noise. I can’t go to sleep while I can still hear them.”

Trish, 54, sleeps in a white 1996 Holden Commodore. Late Wednesday afternoon near Lake Macquarie she pulled into the grounds of Our Backyard, a year-old pilot project funded by Macquarie Care that gives refuge to people sleeping in cars.

The circumstances of Trish leaving her Community Housing unit in Wallsend – “Hell’s End,” she calls it – involved the trauma of losing her son, the struggle to make rent anywhere else, and a toxic feud with a neighbour she believed was threatening her life.

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