The stories that drive PIF CEO Kate Mills to get active for homeless youth

This weekend I will be walking 10km to hit my 50km target that I am doing as part of the Property Industry Foundation’s 30-Day Fitness Challenge. I am the CEO of the Property Industry Foundation and I’m asking you to support me. The story below is why I want your support.

A few months ago, Mark Power from Qualitas, got in touch with me. His family had taken in a girl who was escaping from family violence. Sarah was born to an alcoholic single mother and had lived with family violence her whole life perpetrated by her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. Due to the abuse, she was removed from her mother’s care and lived in numerous foster homes. None of them had worked out. She experienced severe sexual abuse and neglect. By 16, she fluctuated between living on the streets and sometimes couch surfing, often at homes where she was vulnerable to further abuse.

When they learned of Sarah’s situation through their teenage daughter, Mark and his wife drove round to get her stuff from where she was living and took her into their home. Then they began looking for a safe place for her to live while she could work to get some qualifications. Sarah stayed with them for three nights, and then was in a refuge for a few nights. Then she got a place in another refuge for a week, and then was in another refuge the next week. Then she was on the street.

When Mark got in touch with me, his family had found a short-term solution for Sarah and then had spent three weeks trying to navigate the family violence and welfare support systems to get help.

“We had come to the realisation that we were fighting a losing battle trying to get a government assisted roof over Sarah’s head,” said Mark.

One of our PIF House builds in Melbourne.

The family was now trying to raise enough money to hold in trust to support Sarah while she got her life back on track.

I put Mark in touch with the Lighthouse Foundation, an excellent charity which offers safety and security to young people to give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Frankly, I didn’t hold out much hope. Lighthouse is a fantastic charity and PIF has supported it by building or refurbishing 3 houses for it in the last 9 years. While there is no shortage of will, there is a shortage of bedrooms for people like Sarah. Particularly ones that offer medium to long-term stays, to give young people from difficult backgrounds the time that they need to get on track.

So, I was delighted when I heard two weeks ago that Lighthouse has been able to offer Sarah a haven at one of its homes in Melbourne – a home built by the Property Industry Foundation in 2014 with Australand (now Frasers) as the lead builder. It’s a 6-bedroom house where young people are in an open-ended program and don’t leave until they are ready.

It’s great to connect people and be a small part of the solution. You can help too. The Property Industry Foundation will build another 6-bedroom house for Lighthouse with Frasers Property again as the lead pro-bono builder. While we get significant in-kind support from the industry, the Property Industry Foundation fundraises to underwrite every project and we need to raise $300k to make sure this gets built once restrictions ease. If you support me in the 30-Day Fitness Challenge every dollar will go to our house building program. You can support me here.

Six bedrooms means the potential for six people like Sarah to get a fresh start.

At the Property Industry Foundation, we are changing lives, one bedroom at a time.