Published on Monday 15, November 2021

Brent suffered an acquired brain injury (ABI) in a work accident when he was 16. He became homeless at that time and remained so for 30 years. His psychosocial development was greatly limited by these life events, and he experiences a severe impulse control disorder.

After years spent cycling through rough sleeping and high density transitional accommodation - short-term housing for people experiencing homelessness funded by the state government - that was not suited to his needs, Brent was eventually placed in a community housing home where he could live independently. The small home was in a row of terraces, which was not ideal for Brent given the difficulties he has engaging with others, however he often expressed how much he enjoyed living there.

However, problems began to arise with Brent's neighbours, who took issue with his propensity to have loud verbal outbursts in his home and backyard. Over the course of his year-long tenancy, his community housing provider obtained multiple orders to evict from VCAT for causing a nuisance

However, IMCL negotiated with the housing provider, highlighting the Charter obligations that it owed to Brent as a social landlord. The CHP did not continue with the eviction.

Brent's tenancy eventually came to an end, despite great efforts to resist the housing provider's attempts to evict him. The neighbours - private owners and renters - were persistent in their complaints and the CHP agreed that the tenancy was no longer tenable, forcing him back into emergency housing and an uncertain future.

While IMCL successfully prevented the initial eviction attempts by negotiating with the community housing provider and highlighting the Charter obligations owed to Brent as a social housing tenant, the provider ultimately pursued the eviction. This has placed him once again at risk of homelessness and compromised the significant progress he had made with a disability care team to improve his health and wellbeing, afforded by his increased housing stability.

It's clear that the community housing allocated to Brent was unsuited to his basic needs and that he requires low-density specialist accommodation. Given the lack of investment in this type of accommodation, Brent is unlikely to be allocated a suitable home through either social or public housing. This means that Brent, and people with similar needs, will simply continue to cycle in-and-out of homelessness and inadequate housing.

For Brent's social worker, this is something she see's all too often through her work at the intersection of the housing, disability and mental health systems:

'Lack of housing is a real problem particularly for people with dual disabilities and we are just skirting around the edges of solving that. People like Brent just get moved around so much, and there's a real lack of understanding in the community and by providers that evictions don't work, and the mental health system alongside the housing sector isn't meeting housing needs.'