Jovan (known as John), who was living on the street behind a Wattle Grove service station, has finally been granted housing at Warwick Farm – for now. It’s only temporary.
However, after initial plans fell through, he’s seeking a more permanent solution with the help of the community.
“After several attempts to get John into a more permanent rental we were unsuccessful due to the support of his family. At the moment John’s going really well and has been happy in the temporary accommodation,” said resident and friend of John, Christopher Sparrow.
“He wouldn’t be where he is now if it weren’t for the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Department of Housing. We’re just waiting to find a more permanent solution. Community support has been ongoing with donations. My family and I have been overwhelmed by the public support.
“But we look forward to a more permanent solution.”
So far the community has donated technology, furniture, cleaning products and other necessities to John, who’s soon to be 67.
St Vincent de Paul caseworker Aria Atmar said community contributions had made a huge impact. “John’s current living situation is only temporary until we can find something better,” he said. “But the community has helped and done a great job.”
Hume Community Housing has provided John with temporary housing.
“We’ll be liaising with Housing NSW Liverpool and John’s telling us he’d like to be in social housing because he said as a pensioner he can’t afford the private market.
“We’re exploring all the best options for him, looking for the best outcome for him,” said Hume’s transitional housing manager Dusanka Mrdjenovic.
Like John, Ms Mrdjenovic has a Serbian background. This has paved the way for smoother communication between John and the organisation to make plans.
While John’s case has progressed he claimed his son thwarted plans to help him rent a unit at Liverpool.
“My biggest problem is between me and my son,” he said. “My first property was in Holsworthy and I had a house in Wollongong. I was pushed out of my property and I wasn’t let back in my house. My son was supposed to help me find a private flat but didn’t. My new friends are my family now.”
Christopher and Colleen Sparrow are two key people who’ve helped John throughout his ordeal. They believe they’ve done the right thing, helping the less fortunate, but they’ve become the brunt of harsh criticism from some quarters.
“All we’re trying to do is help him,” Mrs Sparrow said. “Unfortunately, we’ve copped terrible criticism from people on Facebook. It got to the point where people were threatening our family.
“But we know we’re helping someone and it’s the right thing to do. You can see a huge change in John since he got temporary housing. He’s much happier and has stopped some bad habits. He’s got a clean home now. He’s stopped drinking and not getting as emotional.”
John is one of many homeless people in Sydney who are living on the streets due to family breakdowns.
The Champion has endeavoured to make contact with John's family. John’s son asked not to be named and asked for his comments not to be made public.