Ash has been without a home for more than two years. He is 17.

For him, it’s constantly couch-surfing, and not having a place at the end of the day to go home to, or simply not having a home.

All my mates would be walking down the street and they’d be like, “I’m going home” and I’d think to myself, “Well, I’m going to walk around for the next 5-6 hours until I catch a bus back to where I’m staying”.

It’s embarrassing.

Being homeless affected his schooling; even though he would try and put pen to paper and think about work, he would have a build-up of stress from all the other things he’d think about – where to go next, and how he was going to continue attending school while homeless.

“I’ve tried really hard. I’ve tried all the youth services that can help me, but all their living situations are full.

Everywhere I go it’s month-in month-out. I spend a month at one place and during that month I spend a lot of time figuring out where I’m going to go or who’s going to help me next. Or, who I’m going to talk to next about it. It’s hard and it’s frustrating. I don’t know whether it makes me more angry or sad.”

Being younger than 18 also presented barriers in looking for houses to rent, as much of the time, Ash wasn’t accepted due to being a minor.

For Centrelink payments, youth allowance as an independent student, Ash received $440 [per fortnight], but “I have to live my life like an adult. That money needs to pay for rent, food, clothes and necessities, everything I need. And I have to catch buses everywhere and I don’t have anyone to help.”

A rental can be anywhere between $150 to $280, $350 a week – being on a $440 budget a fortnight caused a lot of difficulties, as nearly all the pay went towards rent, which left little for other life expenses.

“It gets to the point where you nearly have to be a criminal to get help. Most people think that jail is bad, but some people want to be in jail — not to get a reputation or be cool, it’s because they don’t have a home to go to. They don’t have a bed, they don’t have a roof over their head every single night, they don’t have three meals a day and they’re struggling.

I’ve had to go and buy a tent and a sleeping bag and go sleep down in the public toilets. It’s not the nicest thing and it’s pretty scary and it’s cold. I remember feeling numb.

Not just sleeping in the public toilets, but packing your tent up and a sleeping bag and going from place to place. All I needed was a family member or friend to do it with me, and it would’ve made things OK. Just knowing I was doing it all by myself was probably the hardest thing. It’s made me angry. I’ve been in tears and broken down.”

-Image and story adapted from ABC News

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