THE stresses and strains of living on the street are wearing Jane Black down.
Ms Black and her homeless rescue dog have been living out of her car - mainly in a small parking lot at Chinderah - for seven months and she is at her wit's end.
Ms Black said she had gone to "every service available” on the Tweed before leaving her Housing Commission home in Newcastle, to try to find an interim home, to no avail.
"It is so stressful, it's difficult to sleep at night, I am so worried,” she said.
"I have had several visits from males, it's difficult to sleep as a woman on her own.”
The former hospitality worker and fusion chef of 37 years left her Housing Commission home in Newcastle, after yearning to return to the Tweed Coast to be closer to family.
Now Ms Black finds she is excluded from all Family and Community Services support and is desperate to find somewhere to live.
She is appealing to anyone in the community for help, even if it is just to find somewhere to park her trailer and give her dog a safe place to be tethered when she is at work.
"It is only by the grace of God that I have not been moved on by the rangers,” she said.
"All I want is to find somewhere safe for me and my dog to live. I don't want a hand out, I just want a hand up.”
Meanwhile, case workers doing their best to help prevent people ending up on Tweed streets say battlers are struggling to find local rental properties unless they share houses or shift to rural areas.
Kym Langill, a director with On Track Community Programs, said those who chose to continue living locally often couch surf, sleep rough or are forced to live in risky places.
She said families who shifted to rural towns for cheaper rents often lost important support networks.
"Rural areas lack regular public transport,” Ms Langill said.
"And unless they own a car, which is costly, people have trouble seeking or getting to work and accessing other vital services, such as health care. Many of these people lose their local connections such as family, schools etc.
"Breaking up social networks can impact poorly on personal wellbeing.”
Ms Langill said people on government payments, including Newstart, had few, "if any”, affordable housing options unless they went into shared housing.
She said 30 or more people were applying for each affordable rental property.
"There is no doubt that homelessness and the difficulty some people face in finding secure accommodation is a significant problem in the Tweed, as it is nationally,” she said.
- OTCP find emergency accommodation for people facing domestic violence.
- OTCP helps local people, including families, find short or longer term accommodation.
- Specialised services are available for people of indigenous background.
- Call the OTCP helpline: 1300 355 305.
To help Jane, contact her on 0408 632 257.