News, Culture & Society

Queensland woman forced to live in her car for two years opens up on the ‘extremely lonely’ reality

Woman left homeless by rental crisis is forced to live in her car and shower at the gym as she struggles to make ends meet: ‘It’s extremely lonely’

  • Wendy, 52, spent two and a half years living in her car 
  • She says she feels like an ‘extreme oddball’ and is lonely 

A woman has opened up about the ‘extremely lonely’ experience of being forced to live in her car due to Australia’s deepening housing crisis. 

Wendy, from Queensland, spent seven years living in shared accommodation, shelling out over $200 a week for a room.

But the 52-year-old has been forced to live in her car for the past two-and-a-half years after being unable to afford the rent.

Wendy (pictured), from Queensland, has spent the last two and a half years living in her car after  being unable to afford the rent in shared accommodation

She believes politicians have turned a blind eye to Australia’s housing crisis and claimed the $40 extra a fortnight announced in the budget for those on welfare was ‘definitely’ not enough.

‘There’s no help out there for us, I’ve applied for housing and been denied,’ she told 7News.

In Tuesday night’s Budget, Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed a $40-per-fortnight cash boost to 1.1million welfare recipients.

Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment (partnered), Austudy, ABSTUDY, the Disability Support Pension (Youth) and the special benefit will increase by the same amount from September 2023.

At present, payments for a single adult with no dependent children are $693.10 per fortnight, or $49.50 a day, and slightly less for those in a live-in relationship.

Wendy revealed the alienating and ‘extremely lonely’ experience of living in her car as she is pushed to the margins of society.

‘It’s intimidating when people are walking past and staring at you — you feel like an extreme oddball in this world,’ she said.

Wendy, who used to work in construction cleaning, relies on welfare to get by, which is ‘extremely hard’.

She has a storage shed for some of her belongings but the cost of that is now set to increase from $45 to $60 a week.

‘I’m now going to even be pushed out of the storage,’ she said.

Wendy is able to access fresh food once a fortnight when she visits community hub Encircle Redcliffe Neighbourhood Centre, Queensland.

Otherwise, she can only keep fresh food in her car for a maximum of three days.

Her advice for those in a similar situation is to 'downsize to the bare necessities you need'

Her advice for those in a similar situation is to ‘downsize to the bare necessities you need’

And now that it’s getting colder, she parks her car in underground car parks to escape the elements.

‘As soon as they see you on camera, they’re concerned about me being there,’ she said.

‘So I will be kicked out of there soon too.’

Wendy allows herself a gym membership so that she can shower and the occasional coffee and hot dinner. 

If she’s unable to keep up with her gym payments, she exercises until she’s warm and then braves the cold public showers.

It comes as a leading charity has claimed rents in Australia have ‘never been less affordable’.

Anglicare charity revealed in their latest rental affordability report that there were only four rentals in the entire country that were affordable for a single person receiving Jobseeker. 

The charity said the crisis was ‘systemic’, adding: ‘Renting in Australia has become harder, with rental stress going up as listings become more expensive and homes becoming less secure as the vacancy rate continues to drop.’