‘Not worth anything’: Single mum’s housing nightmare

A single mum has described feeling worthless when she walked into run down and dirty emergency accommodation on the Coffs Coast.

Michelle O'Donnell has had a tough time of it since leaving her Brisbane rental in November, and after finding herself homeless, she reached out for help.

While appreciative of Mission Australia's assistance, Ms O'Donnell was shocked to discover the "atrocious" state of the hotel she was sent to and already close to breaking point, said walking in made her feel "terrible" and "like I am not worth anything".

"I am not trying to be ungrateful, it was just not fit for living," she said.

Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.
Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.

Ms O'Donnell left after one night and decided to speak out because she felt her concerns were falling on deaf ears, despite taking photos of the property and sending them to Mission Australia.

She said everyone deserves a certain standard no matter what their situation.

"If I can save someone else the heartache - I am so glad," she said.

A spokesperson for Mission Australia confirmed they had since taken action and been in contact with Ms O'Donnell, who would be eligible for more assistance in the future.

Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.
Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.

The spokesperson said they worked with local hotels to ensure people on the Mid North Coast could access safe, secure and appropriate housing and "just like any motel or hotel customer" it expects all short-term accommodation such as motels provide a basic standard.

"Up until this instance, the local motels, hotels and caravan parks that we connect with for temporary or short-term accommodation have been clean and appropriate for client needs," the spokesperson said.

"The standard of the motel, particularly the common areas used by all guests, such as the kitchen, are unacceptable and Mission Australia will no longer suggest this motel for any type of accommodation."

Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.
Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.

And in yet another example of the housing challenges in coastal holiday-destinations, Mission Australia revealed the hotel was "rarely" used as a short term accommodation option.

"Due to the severe shortage of accommodation options during the Summer holidays, this was the only affordable short-term option available for the week required," the spokesperson said.

"Particularly due to the impacts of the pandemic and during the Summer holiday period, the housing crisis on the Mid North Coast is making it particularly difficult for people to attain safe, secure and affordable homes.

Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.
Michelle O'Donnell was horrified to see the state of a local hotel which was used by Mission Australia for emergency accommodation.

"We will continue to advocate for investment in more social homes to end homelessness in the Mid North Coast and across Australia that will help to alleviate the need for temporary or short-term accommodation."

If you have had a similar experience while in emergency accommodation on the Coffs Coast contact tim.jarrett@news.com.au


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