Homeless in Hawthorn

Kylie Scofield. Photo by Matthew Withers.
A 50-year-old woman who spends part of her week begging on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, says one of the hardest parts of begging is you “become invisible”. Matthew Withers reports.  

Kylie Scofield can be seen three times a week sitting outside Coles on Glenferrie Road with her sign asking for help to find accommodation for the night.

Ms Scofield says she chooses to come to Hawthorn as she feels like the community is more caring than other places she has been.

“The shops are good around here they are all nice, so are the people, you get a lot of people who want to stop and have a chat and want to know your story,” says Ms Scofield

Ms Scofield doesn’t stay around Hawthorn after dark as she is a single woman in her fifties and the nightclubs in the area are a bit worrisome.

Even during the day, it’s not easy being homeless, some of the challenges you face in any area are people who treat you poorly, she says.

Ms Scofield says one of the hardest parts of begging is you “become invisible”. “People walk across the street so they don’t have to walk past you, I mean I do understand it’s confronting for some people.”

When asked about the government support services Ms Scofield says that she “would rather lie down in the middle of the tram tracks and take the risk,” than go to a housing service.

“The hostels are terrible, there are people shooting up, smoking crack, girls and guys together, the last time I was there I stood on a needle and had to have tests done.”

Further down Glenferrie road is Les Green.  He doesn’t live in Hawthorn either but has been selling The Big Issue in the area for almost 10 years.

Homeless in Hawthorn
Big Issue seller Les Green with his dog Matilda and a local Julian.

Mr Green says it’s the people who have made him stick around for so long.

“The people here they treat me with respect and talk to me honestly,” says Mr Green. “I used to sell at Melbourne Uni and people there called me a nobody.”

Boroondara saw the second largest increase (11.2 per cent) in homelessness in the eastern metropolitan region from 383 in 2011 to 426 in 2016. These homeless counts are likely to be underestimated.

On any given night in Hawthorn, there are roughly 150 people sleeping rough.