A former teacher made homeless while trying to survive on Newstart says she has been buoyed by a flood of kindness in the days since her plight was revealed.
The New Daily has been inundated with generous offers from people opening their homes to Karryn Smith, after it was revealed the South Australian mother is living out of her car on $20 a day.
From around the nation, readers wrote in with messages of support – including Australians who said they had experienced similar hardships and knew it was the compassion from strangers that had helped turn around their lives.
Debe, a full-time carer for her husband who suffers from dementia, offered Ms Smith the spare room in her house for six months rent-free.
Despite living “way below the poverty line”, in the past 15 years the Sydney couple has accommodated more than 200 people fleeing situations like domestic violence or drug addiction.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Debe said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week ruled out any increase to the Newstart payment after mounting pressure to offer welfare recipients an extra $75 a week.
Ms Smith said she receives $570.70 a fortnight, but is left with just $21.30 a day after bills are paid.
She said she cannot afford housing or even a healthy meal, so has been sleeping in her car.
Kim Martin, an ex-miner from Bendigo, said Ms Smith could have the spare room in her house.
She said she knows what it’s like to be “living on survival skills”.
About three years ago, Ms Martin, 59, was involved in a car crash that left her with a broken neck in five places.
A fortnight later she was hit by a car while crossing the road.
As she prepared to go into surgery for a second time, Ms Martin’s brother died by suicide.
Then a year later her mother passed away.
“She’s (Ms Smith) worked hard, like I’ve worked hard all my life. How dare somebody turn their back on her.”
Kate, a nurse from Melbourne, said she could accommodate Ms Smith for up to a year rent-free.
She said there had been times where she, too, has struggled to pay for food and rent.
“Through good fortune and the fact that I do have a family around me who are able to support me, I didn’t end up living on the street or in a car,” Kate said.
Hannah from Melbourne was homeless at one stage and said her home is always open if ever Ms Smith needed a rest, a hot meal or even just a car park.
“I was writing a submission to a Senate bill related to poverty and I was doing it in the back of my car as I was homeless in 2017,” she said.
“It was only through the kindness of other people that I got out of that situation.”
Catherine Karena from Sydney helps disadvantaged young people find long-term employment. She offered financial help for Ms Smith.
“Her words ‘I just exist’ cut my heart. People like Karryn need community,” Ms Karena said.
Ms Smith has a place to ‘house sit’ in Victoria for the next few weeks, and is in touch with some of the donors who contacted The New Daily to discuss future options.
“Even though the federal government does not care about people such as myself, I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from strangers,” Ms Smith said.
“It makes me feel not so alone.”
Debe, Kate and Hannah did not wish to have their last name used in this story