Updated September 27, 2015 15:21:34>
> Photo: Selvin Aragon and his young son were homeless for a month, before finding an affordable home. (ABC News: Cate Grant)
>Map: Hobart 7000
There are hopes a new centre for homeless fathers in Tasmania's south will help fathers stay connected with their children.
The State Government has pledged $2.5 million towards a purpose-built $4 million centre to house men and their children.
The facility in the Hobart suburb of Moonah will be a first for the state and forms part of the Government's affordable housing strategy.
Selvin Aragon, 39, and his young son found themselves homeless in the middle of Hobart's coldest winter in decades.
I was feeling really stressed out, more because of my son, because he needed to be in a stable place.Selvin Aragon single father
"That's what hit [my son] hard: we had no car, we had to do a lot of walking, so it was really cold; we had to walk a lot of distance, from one place to another, " he said.
After a month of hotel rooms, couch-surfing and running between service providers, money was running out.
"I was feeling really stressed out, more because of my son, because he needed to be in a stable place," Mr Aragon said.
"I was feeling sorry for [my son], because I would see his face, he was making faces, he wouldn't want to come with me looking for [a] house, and going to this office and then from this office to another office.
"He wasn't really happy about walking all this with me, he wanted to go to school and everything, but we couldn't put him in a school yet."
Homeless fathers under-reported
Nearly 23,000 families in Tasmania are single-parent households, and almost one-in-five are single fathers.
Statistics on single father homelessness are hard to collate, as the stigma and fear of losing their children hold men back from seeking help.
Colony 47 has found many homeless fathers have been sleeping in their cars with their children.
In a statement, the organisation said it often resulted from relationship breakdown or spouse loss which resulted in financial difficulties.
Anecdotally, it believes there are high numbers of men not contacting Colony 47 for help due to fear of repercussions over custody and their ability to parent.
The Hobart City Mission's chief executive John Stubley said there was a greater awareness.
"We're now talking about it much like family violence, it's always been there but it hasn't been identified," he said.
"The system has changed in recent years, that fathers do now get custody of their children, whereas maybe 20 years ago they wouldn't have so there is a lot more instances of fathers who have a degree of access/custody of their children and therefore need accommodation."
No dedicated housing services for fathers in Tasmania
Kobie Burnett, 31, struggles to maintain connection with his children, because he is homeless.
"I'm staying in [Hobart men's shelter] Bethlehem House at the moment," he said.
They told me there was shelter for men, shelter for mothers and children, but there was no shelter for men and children.Selvin Aragon single father
"I get access with my kids every few weeks. I had an access visit with them last weekend, I was able to see them for an hour at the park up in Launceston.
"It doesn't make me feel too good, but at least I get to see them."
When Mr Aragon and his son sought help from Hobart homeless shelters, they were turned away.
"When I called Bethlehem House, they told me there was shelter for men, shelter for mothers and children, but there was no shelter for men and children," he said.
Bethlehem House chief executive Patrick Carlise said trying to support fathers was a daily problem.
"We see an extreme need through our services," he said.
"We have a number of dads through the year with children in tow, looking for secure accommodation. We unfortunately [for security reasons] can't accommodate the children here as well as the fathers," he said.
"So we will refer them on to other brokerage services, [they] might give them a couple of days in a motel, but that's for extreme circumstances."
Building Blocks centre to cater to unmet needs
Construction will begin next year on the new Moonah centre, known as Building Blocks.
City Mission will run the centre which will house up to seven fathers and their children, and will include disability access accommodation.>
> Photo: Hobart City Mission CEO John Stubley says the new centre will provide a comprehensive service for homeless fathers. (ABC News)
Mr Stubley said it would also provide support services.
"It might be skill building ... some of them might be pretty obvious, it could be as easy as how to cook, how to nurture a child, how to play with a child, you know as simple as 'get down on the floor and have a game'," he said.
Mr Carlisle said skilling up and supporting fathers was essential.
"Some males don't have positive role models in their own life, so they don't know how to be a good dad. There are programs out there that will help them become stronger dads," he said.
"There is a need for them to understand their challenges — it may be an addiction, gambling, could be drugs, alcohol, violence, whatever is the reason that has caused them homelessness, are the [issues] we should be working on to make them free from those areas so they can get back to being a father and a useful part of the community.>
> Photo: Bethlehem House CEO Patrick Carlisle says it's important homeless fathers get parenting support as well as a roof over their heads. (ABC News: Cate Grant)
"We see a lot of our men come into Bethlehem House, they're frustrated that they can't connect with the children, and that just builds up frustration and tension for that person.
"They want to be integrated back in with their children, and then they can concentrate on other things, getting stable accommodation, re-joining employment, re-educating, re-socialising."
It is a sentiment echoed by Mr Aragon.
"I would like to see that the Government would invest more in shelters for single fathers, because it seems like it is not a common thing," he said.
"There is a lot of homeless people, not all of them hooked on drugs, it's not an alcohol issue or a drugs issue, it's more, like for myself, more of an economic issue."
Mr Aragon has now secured a safe and affordable home to rent, his son attends the local school and Mr Aragon is looking for work.
"It was like a big, heavy weight on my shoulders ... I'm more relaxed, we feel more peaceful now."
For now, that remains a dream for Mr Burnett.>
> Photo: Kobie Burnett strives to maintain a connection with his children, despite living in a men's shelter. (ABC News)
"A better situation would be to have them stay over the weekend or something like that," he said.
"It'd make a heaps better relationship with them...just let them stay over the weekend, hopefully eventually get a house and have them live with met.
"Be able to get up in the morning, make them breakfast...be able to play a lot more with them, they could get to know me a lot more."
The Hobart City Mission expects to receive the first clients at Building Blocks by the end of next year.
First posted September 27, 2015 15:20:09
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-27/tasmanian-first-centre-for-homeless-fathers-building-blocks/6806404Thanks you for read my article Tasmania\'s First Centre For Homeless Fathers \'to Promote Stronger Family Bonds\'