The true effects of the pandemic are only beginning to be seen, with a 15-year-old brave enough to detail how Covid saw them become homeless for the first time in their lives.
Moon Plimmer, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and found herself homeless for four months in 2021.
Moon said that during the lockdown her relationship with her parents became strained.
“When you can go out all day, come back to dinner, have it to eat in your room and go to bed, you really don’t have to deal with [any tensions]Moon told news.com.au.
“Being stuck in a house with a bunch of people that you maybe don’t get along with, or maybe you get along when you’re not stuck in a house with them, you don’t get rest.”
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Moon said their relationship became more strained at home, so they made the decision to leave, but it was not an easy one.
Instead, Moon spent time bouncing between friends’ houses and, at one point, had to sleep in a car.
“Not knowing where you’re going to sleep the next night, it’s a huge strain on your mental health because for all you know, you could be out on the streets with people who want to hurt you,” Moon said.
“I was put in situations where I was circumstantially forced to live with people who didn’t have my best interests in mind. It led to some pretty unhealthy relationships, abusive relationships.”
Mission Australia’s 2021 Youth Survey had responses from more than 20,000 young people, with one in 20 revealing that they experienced homelessness for the first time thanks to the pandemic.
Between 2017 and 2021, there was a 0.9 percent increase in first-time homeless people and three out of five were women.
But Moon said they aren’t the only teens who felt home was an impossible place to live thanks to the pandemic, as evidenced by the surge in first-time homelessness.
Moon said they believe there is a difference in perception between young people like themselves who are homeless and adults.
“I had people to stay with, while some older people didn’t, because, ‘oh, you’re older, you should be able to have a job,’ etc,” Moon said.
“As a young person, I am lucky to have an excuse in other people’s eyes for not having a place to stay. But an elderly person who does not have a place to stay is considered almost a burden.”
After Moon’s homelessness, they signed up with Mission Australia’s Youth Drug and Alcohol Service, and the 15-year-old considered himself addicted.
It was here that things began to change for Moon, as they finally got the support they felt they needed.
“DAYS was amazing, they are very supportive,” said Moon.
“The first two weeks are free. You get food, a place to stay, outings, and lessons on drugs and alcohol. After that, it’s 100 a week for the three-month program. You get life lessons on budgets and groups on drugs and alcohol.”
Moon added that the staff was amazing and that it was a great place to go if you are struggling with mental health or substance issues.
The teen said the program changed their life and they are now clean, living in their own home after receiving the support they needed.
Moon shares her story so other teens in the same position don’t feel alone.
I just want to say that even if you’re struggling with homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol use, there’s always a way to get through it,” Moon said.
“You just have to push yourself and really keep going because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. At the moment, it may not seem like it, but you have to keep going through that tunnel. Keep walking. Just don’t stop.