21 July 2021
A clean slate leads the way home
Janine Spice has lived in her 40-year-old house in Raymond Terrace for 16 years. Her social housing property is home to her, and once to her children, now grown up and living their own lives.
Today, she lives with her faithful dog Pongo, in a home she is now proud to welcome friends and family into. Just a few weeks earlier that was not the case.
When Janine’s last child left home, she said her empty nest truly engulfed her. The home had been a full house with five living at close quarters. Then a collection issue Janine struggled with most of her life grew progressively worse, making her home off limits to almost everyone – including her family.
Janine was fostered at a young age and when she became a mother herself was the victim of years of domestic violence. Fortunately, she was able to move into social housing and despite the challenges managed to successfully provide her children with a positive and supportive homelife.
“My kids are good people, but they were always ashamed of the house and the growing clutter, but the empty nest syndrome really hit when my son left home,” she said.
“I was just so depressed. I used to cry every day and I was ashamed a lot. I just could not get beyond the house. Everything just piled up and it kept getting worse.”
The fact that her grandchildren also did not want to come and visit her cluttered home, meant she always had to go to them, made the situation more stressful and painful.
But things are different today. At the age of 60 there is light at the end of the tunnel. Janine is turning her life around. She has found a way back to home.
This she said is because her house was chosen for renovation in the latest New South Wales Government stimulus program, applied for by Hume Community Housing which manages social housing in the Hunter on behalf of the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), which owns Janine’s property. The works commissioned by Hume commenced during April 2021.
“My house needed a lot of major maintenance work, but this could not happen with all the mess, so it spurred me on to take action,” she said.
“I worked really hard because I realised more than ever that I did not want to live in this mess, it was time!” Janine declared.
Janine worked with Hume to get things done. Hume provided a shipping container to move all her furniture into and a skip to throw things out. Slowly but surely, she has cleared her house, with only a few boxes left to deal with.
Janine had her house painted, new carpets and a new kitchen done. The garden also received a new fence.
“This is the first time in eight years I have slept in a bed, first because I slept on the lounge to give my kids a bed, and second because in the bedroom was inaccessible due to all the clutter,” Janine said.
“Sleeping in my own bed is simply amazing - now I love it!”
Janine plans to have the family for Christmas dinner as she continues to get more done.
“I am so grateful to Hume Housing because they have helped me so much to get my home back, they never put me down,” she said.
“All the workers were lovely too. I have not felt so positive for a long time. It’s wonderful – I have a new lease on life!”
The kitchen is a particular joy and Janine now loves to sit at the kitchen table doing a jigsaw and having a cuppa.
Hume’s Customer Support Coordinator Renee Brown continues to support Janine.
“Janine has done some amazing things to get her house in order, which is having a very positive affect on her, so we want to keep this going,” she said.
“There are many ways we help including regular visits and suggesting programs that can help Janine stay on track.”
Janine is looking forward to having her newest grandchild visit and serving Christmas lunch to her family in her new home.
“Home and family are everything. A roof over your head is so important and paying your bills on time – which I always have, its onwards and upwards from now on!” Janine concluded.
Hume Community Housing is a Community Housing Provider with over 30 years’ experience in providing homes and s
ervices to over 9,000 customers across metropolitan and regional NSW.
Hume offers a full continuum of housing spanning temporary and transitional crisis housing through to long-term community and affordable housing. It also builds and develops new properties and provides tenancy management services for property owners.
If you are experiencing collecting or hoarding compulsions and seeking help, you can find some useful links at www.healthdirect.gov.au/hoarding-disorder.